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FGCU DII hockey advances in national championship after Keene State blowout

FGCU DII hockey advances in national championship after Keene State blowout
The FGCU Division II hockey team. (Special to Eagle News)

The FGCU DII hockey team defeated the Keene State Owls, 11-1, Friday afternoon during the first round of the American Collegiate Hockey Association Division II Championships in West Chester, Pennsylvania.

The Owls made it 1-0 with a goal from Kurt Mitchell, two minutes into the first period.

“The other team came out pretty hard; they had a pretty good first period,” FGCU defenseman Jack Emmer said. “It’s tough when you haven’t played in a month, which is always our weakness going into the championships, but the score, I feel, is a testament to the hard work we’ve put in and our dedication.”

Nick Houser answered quickly for FGCU, tying up the game 1-1 off a rebound assisted by Mike Chemello and Rob Marlinski, less than five minutes into the first.

Halfway through the first, FGCU forward Nathan Pelligra scored on the team’s first power play of the game, leading by 2-1 at the end of the first period.

The Eagles continued to widen the lead four minutes into the second period when Pelligra slid another past Keene goalie Dylan Strogen. Forty seconds later, FGCU forward Jordan Klotz widened the lead even further with another power play goal for the Eagles.

Deeper into the second period, Klotz scored for his second time in the game, and Pelligra scored one more for a hat trick. Mike Gutowitz was the playmaker of the period for FGCU, assisting on two of the Eagles’ five goals. The Eagles led 7-1 at the end of the period.

Thirty seconds into the third, Marlinksi added to the scoreboard with a goal. This was followed by goals from FGCU captain Dan Echeverri and Houser, bringing the lead to 10-1.

Two minutes later, a power play goal from FGCU forward Dillon Duprey put the Eagles up by 10 goals. That was quickly followed by an FGCU five-minute major penalty that became an extended 4-on-4, as Keene found itself in penalty trouble once more.

Due to its repeat offenses, Keene was unable to capitalize on the penalty opportunity, ultimately losing to the Eagles 11-1.

This win follows FGCU’s 25-5 regular season record. The team was surely out for blood, in hopes of a repeat of the 2012 championships where the Eagles snatched the national title over Grand Valley State.

The Eagles move onto the next round, playing Michigan State University at 3 p.m. Saturday.

“Our expectations going into tomorrow’s game are the same as today,” Emmer said. “We’re not going to take any teams lightly. But, if we play like we did today, as a team, I believe some of the veterans on this team — who, like myself, have personally experienced being so close to the national title and falling just short the past couple years — have it in them to make it all the way to the top.”

The game is available via livestream on the 2016 Division II National Championships site.

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