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FGCU DII hockey team picks up a win in its home opener

In a physical, high-scoring battle, the FGCU DII men’s hockey team overpowered Merrimack College in a 7-1 victory, led by forward No. 19 Nathan Pelligra with a four-point night. All of this offense was accompanied by an outstanding performance in net with 33 saves by No. 30 Tyler Tracy.

FGCU won its first game of the season and handed the Warriors (5-2) their second loss on the season.

The first period was a gritty one, with heavy forechecking by FGCU to start the game. A center ice hit by Steven Cariglio set the tempo early.

FGCU was plagued with four penalties in the first period but was able to kill off all four with good defensive play and a huge, sprawling save by Tracy to keep the game tied 0-0 midway through the first.

With 58.8 seconds left in the first, Pelligra sped past the Warriors defense to wrist a shot past Merrimack goalie Derek DeCastro, making it a 1-0 game going into the first intermission.

Both teams came out fast from the first intermission, exchanging scoring chances. Merrimack took a penalty with 16:59 left in the period, and the Eagles assistant captain, Michael Chemello, capitalized just 18 seconds into the power play.

FGCU scored again five minutes later at 11:41 when David Wong gave a perfect pass from behind the net to Pelligra out in front, who lasered it by DeCastro to make it a 3-0 game.

In the third period, the Eagles built their lead even more by adding four more goals, including two shorthanded tallies by Jordan Klotz and Josh Koerner.

A scuffle broke out after an insane save by Tracy to keep the game 6-0, resulting in a power play for Merrimack. Merrimack finally got on the board with 5:23 left in the third, stealing away Tracy’s bid for a shutout. But, that’s the only goal the Warriors would get past Tracy, as the game ended 7-1.

“We had a little bit of a slow start,” Tracy said. “I think, eventually, the guys kind of gelled together. Towards the end there, we finally started getting it rolling. The floodgates kind of opened up a little bit for us.”

FGCU is back in action at 8:30 p.m. tonight at Germain Arena where the Eagles will take on Merrimack in the second game of their back-to-back series.

“It’ll only build the program even more if we get more people to the games, and we’re supposed to be moving up to DI next year,” Pelligra said. “And, hopefully, that starts the process to an NCAA team.”

ENTV video filmed and edited by Rachel Iacovone.

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