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FGCU hockey comes off winning weekend and heads to Virginia

The Florida Gulf Coast University men’s ice hockey team is facing a new challenge this weekend. For the first time this season, FGCU is heading on a road trip to play three games in Virginia. Out of 29 games in the regular season, FGCU has played 20 games on its home ice. The road trip will bring the Eagles to face the Liberty Flames in Lynchburgh on Friday, Jan. 17 and Saturday, Jan. 18. Then Sunday, Jan. 19, the team will travel to Roanoke to face Virginia Tech. These three games are the only games which FGCU doesn’t have home ice advantage. They are also key games for FGCU’s chance to win the automatic bid to nationals.

According to the regulations of the American Collegiate Hockey Association, the top two teams of each region get a berth to nationals without having to play in the regional tournament.

FGCU is currently ranked No. 1 in the Southeast region of ACHA hockey. Virginia Tech is ranked second and Liberty is ranked fifth. Because the games played on the road this weekend are all conference games, it is a big weekend for FGCU hockey. Winning both games against Liberty will mean a four-point swing against a team coming up so closely behind them.

Sunday’s game against Virginia Tech is crucial for the Eagles because losing two points to the No. 2-ranked team could move VT into first place and bump FGCU out of the lead. The ACHA does not go based on points alone for the rankings. There is a committee that votes on ranking teams because there are more criteria that a team is judged by to gain the ranking. Some of the criteria include difficulty of schedule, total games played, comparative scoring, wins/losses based on strength of schedule and compliance its policies. Regardless of the committee voting procedure, FGCU could still lose its No. 1 ranking based on how the Eagles play in their first games away from home this season.

This past weekend, FGCU hockey came back from winter break in outstanding fashion against the Long Beach State 49ers. FGCU played LBSU in a two-game series Jan. 10 and11. FGCU won both games, scoring a total of 29 goals to LBSU’s five. The Eagles beat the 49ers 15-3 on Friday and 14-2 on Saturday. FGCU hockey also had a record-breaking and record-making weekend against LBSU.

On Friday night, FGCU had its highest scoring game this season. Also, Carlo DiPiazza scored his first hat trick of the season. Then on Saturday night, FGCU broke its season record for most goals scored in a single period with nine goals in the second period. Also, for the first time this season, FGCU had two different players score hat tricks in the same game. Nick Schilson and Ryan McAleese each scored their first hat tricks of the season. The returning weekend from winter break overall was a weekend full of accomplishments and gave the team confidence heading to Virginia.

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