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FGCU hockey stays unbeaten with sweep against Eastern Michigan

The Florida Gulf Coast University men’s D2 hockey team faced the Eastern Michigan University Eagles on Thursday Oct. 10 and Friday Oct. 11, outscoring their opponent 15-3 in winning both game of the series.

In the first period of Thursday’s game, Jack Emmer put the first goal on the board for FGCU during the 12th minute of play. Within two minutes of the first goal, the Eagles momentum kicked into rapid fire. Bryan Valancy added one to the board and 30 seconds later, Ryan McAleese got his first of the night, giving FGCU a 3-0 lead to end the first period.

Only two minutes into the second period, Kurt Williams scored a powerplay goal. The Eagles put up 13 other shots during the period, but EMU’s keeper, Brian Ellis, made every save. The Eagles split the game between goalies Mike Reed and Tyler Tracy. Ten minutes into the period, Reed came off and Tracy went in to give both keepers ice time. Reed made 13 saves and allowed no goals during his 30 minutes on the ice. Tracy made 20 saves and allowed EMU its lone goal in the third. “It’s hard to get a group of guys from such a diverse background and playing experience to have them gel so well like this. I think we’re going to do something special.” Tracy said.

The third period featured five FGCU goals. Captain Dan Echeverri scored his first of the night during the fifth minute. With fans beating on the glass, cheering from the stands and chanting at the opposing team, the Eagles went on a scoring spree for the next six minutes. Nick Schilson earned his goal only a minute and 20 seconds later. Kevin Zipkin added to FGCU’s lead, bringing them up 7-0. EMU’s Zach Willis countered not even a minute later but would give EMU their only point for the night. Dan Echeverri added his second goal of the night during the 10th minute of the period.

EMU pulled their starting goalie and brought in Myles Grix. McAleese scored the final goal for the Eagles and his second of the night less than a minute after EMU changed goalies, closing the game out 9-1 for the Green and Blue. The Eagles outshot EMU 42-34 and only took eight penalty minutes while the opposing team was whistled 30 “The camaraderie is huge. We’re so close both on and off the ice. It shows.

We look like we’ve been playing together a whole year. We’ve played three games,” Zipkin said. “We faced a D1 team who made it to the national championship last year so that says a lot.” Friday night, Zipkin got on the board first for FGCU. The starting goalie for EMU, Grix, held the Eagles off for another five minutes when Logan Garst ripped one past him for his first goal of the night. Eastern Michigan demonstrated it was determined not to have a repeat of Thursday’s game. Anthony Stankeiwicz earned a goal for EMU during the 17th minute of the first period against FGCU starting goalie Tracy. The Green and Blue didn’t let this score from their opponent deter their momentum. Not even 20 seconds later FGCU countered the play with a goal from Emmer to end the first period. “The chemistry is coming along well with the team. We’ve had to deal with a few injuries and have had to shuffle the lines a little bit,” Emmer said. “It’s always good when we can all contribute a lot. We’ve proven a lot and feel good about our next games.” During the fourth minute of play into the second period, Dillon Duprey put in another goal for the Eagles. Garst scored his second goal only three minutes later. Echeverri scored the sixth goal against the starting keeper during the 14th minute of the period. EMU then pulled Grix and brought in Ellis for the remainder of the game. FGCU also played two goalkeepers on Friday. Reed replaced Tracy half way through the second so both keepers could have equal time on the ice. Tracy made 11 saves and Reed made 19.

Tracy and Reed each only had one goal against. EMU’s Zach Willis scored the final goal of the period with 47 seconds left on the clock. The third period play was a big change for the Green and Blue and it really demonstrated how strong the defense is for the Eagles. EMU came out hard during the third, putting up 15 shots to FGCU’s six. Not a single one made it past either FGCU keeper. “We have three returning defensemen. Our new defensemen have definitely proved themselves,” said Lee Khan, starting defenseman. “But it starts with the goalies behind us and everyone communicating with each other. We’re taking them one team at a time and feeling very confident right now.” Also during the third, EMU player Jake Rutkoske was ejected from the game for a major misconduct. The final score ended 6-2 in favor of FGCU.

Friday’s game gave way to two more Eagles tallying their first points of the season; both Zach Capco and Kristian Avellanet earned an assist. Now 19 out of 20 Eagles with any time on the ice have earned at least one point so far in only four games. FGCU outshot EMU 34-32 and earned 16 penalty minutes while EMU picked up 21. The Eagles have scored 36 goals against their opponents’ five and put up an incredible161 shots. “We’ve won these games because of the way we started the games. We’ve had a lot more skating and energy than the other teams we’ve played,” said head coach Bob Brinkworth. “Once we’ve gotten ourselves in a comfortable position that’s when other teams open up.They get frustrated and start running; that’s when the score starts to climb. The first 10 minutes are key in any game and that’s how we’ve been able to win the games we’ve played.”

The FGCU men’s D2 hockey team faces the Northern Illinois Huskies at 8:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday on Germain Arena’s Blue rink. Game tickets are $5 each and FGCU students are in free with their Eagle ID cards. Also on Saturday, the men’s D3 hockey team has its home opener against the Florida Atlantic University Owls at 6 p.m. on the Blue rink.

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