The FGCU DII hockey team falls in ACHA title game to NYU

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The Florida Gulf Coast University DII hockey team traveled to Salt Lake City to play in the American Collegiate Hockey Association National Championships. The Eagles made it to the title game, but they lost to New York University, 5-4, making FGCU the second-best team in the nation for ACHA DII club hockey.

FGCU earned itself a spot in the national championship by eliminating the Arizona State Sun Devils, 3-2, in the division semifinal match-up. ASU held onto a one-goal lead throughout the first period, until Mike Chemello evened things up at the start of the second. Matching goals from the Sun Devils and Eagles rounded off the second period tied at two. A scoreless third period sent the semifinal combatants into sudden-death overtime. Klotz shoveled the puck behind ASU’s goaltender to give FGCU the victory and a spot in the national championship game against New York University.

The championship game against NYU opened up very unfavorably for the Eagles. NYU put up three goals in the period before FGCU could manage a late goal in the first from Mike Gutowitz. As soon as the second period began, NYU added two goals for a 5-1 lead. The Eagles had a big chance at a comeback with two back-to-back goals in the end of the second from Mike Chemello and Klotz. As the clock in the final period ticked down to the final minute, Klotz buried the fourth goal for the Eagles, bringing the deficit to within one. The late effort proved futile for FGCU as the final seconds came down and the Eagles lost 5-4.

Pool play

On Friday, March 20 the Eagles challenged the Northeastern University Huskies in the first game of pool play, 5-3. FGCU defeated the Huskies, after bouncing back from a second period one-goal deficit. Nick Schilson scored his first and second goals of the tournament, sliding two past the Huskies netminder in the first period. The Huskies did manage to tally one goal in the first period, on a deflection goal past, Eagles’ goaltender, Mike Reed. Second-period scoring was dominated by Northeastern, putting two past Reed, bringing the lead back to the Huskies. FGCU regained its lead after third-period goals from Brian Valancy and Dan Echeverri. An empty-net goal from Dillon Duprey lengthened the gap and sealed the victory for the Eagles.

In its second game of the tournament Saturday, March 21, FGCU faced off against the hosts of the national tournament, the University of Utah. The Eagles defeated the Utes by a score of 4-3. Jordan Klotz put FGCU on the board first, shoveling one past the Utes’ goalie. Utah quickly responded. With just over four minutes remaining in the first period, Klotz buried his second on the power play, sending the Eagles into intermission with a one-goal lead. Six minutes into the second, Nick Houser in his first, followed by a goal from Logan Garst. Utah bounced back with two late-period goals, but it wasn’t enough stop the looming FGCU victory.

In a matchup that would qualify the Eagles for a semifinal spot, FGCU battled the Missouri State Ice Bears on Sunday night. The Eagles ended the Ice Bears’ season, defeating them 5-2. Two first-period goals from Duprey and a single score by Schilson, retaliated by a single Ice Bears’ goal, sent the Eagles into the first intermission with a two-goal lead. Missouri State ignited the second-period scoring, putting its second past Reed. FGCU answered with another from Duprey. Shilson’s empty-netter ended the game in favor of the Eagles.