The University of Tampa club hockey team is looking to continue its historic season. Overall, the Spartans capped off their first semester with a 9-9-2 record in American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) play along with a 2-3 record against Southern Collegiate Hockey Conference (SCHC) opponents as well.
For example, they played schools such as the University of Miami, the University of South Carolina and Florida Atlantic University. They also ranked thirteenth in the Southern Region of the ACHA for Division III. “This is the best season in university history, best strength of schedule we had and the best ranking we’ve ever received,” said senior forward Matthew Fenby.
To begin the second semester, the Spartans schedule did not get easier as they opened up against the University of Central Florida at RDV Sportsplex Athletic Club in a home-and-home series.
UCF came into the second semester ranked third in the ACHA South Region, but the Spartans were able to come out on top by a final score of 3-1. Senior goalie Greg Lemrow finished the game with 40 saves on the night. Also, freshman left winger Matthew Antonacci scored his thirty-fourth goal on the year to seal the victory.
In the second game against UCF back on home ice at the Brandon Ice Sports Forum, the Spartans dug themselves into a hole as they were down 2-0 at the end of the first period. Despite scoring two goals in the second period, the Spartans lost the second game to UCF 8-3.
Going into this weekend, the Spartans moved up to tenth in the ACHA South Region for the first time ever. The Spartans played their first game against Life University in Marietta, Georgia. Junior forward Evan Stawarz scored his tenth goal of the season to give the Spartans an early 1-0 lead.
The leadership of senior forwards Corey Tudor and Darren Gazaille showed as they both were able to find the net as well. In the end, UT defeated Life by a final score of 4-1.
In their second and final game of the weekend against fifteenth ranked Georgia Tech, the Spartans came out on top 4-1 for their first victory against the Yellow Jackets in school history. The Spartans dominated with 56 shots on goal in comparison to the Yellow Jackets’ 20.
Antonacci scored a hat-trick in the game which were his thirty-sixth, thirty-seventh and thirty-eighth goals on the season. Antonacci’s four-goal performance over the weekend strengthened his case to win the ACHA nationwide scoring title.
As a result of these two victories this past weekend, the Spartans ACHA South ranking could increase once again.
With that said, UT still has a long way to go if they want to qualify for the ACHA South regional tournament. To make regionals, the Spartans will have to be ranked in the top 10 in the region. In their quest for the postseason, they will, once again, play two games against The University of Miami, but they will be playing on the road this time around.
In addition, the Spartans will play a two game home series against Florida State University. Fenby discussed the keys to success moving forward: “We need to learn how to finish out games and win when we go into the third period with a lead.”
To conclude the season, the Spartans will play a home-and-home series against the University of South Florida. Their home matchup will be held at Amalie Arena on Feb.15.
“USF will be the toughest team we play,” said junior forward Nicholas Martin. “We just need to stick to our game and stay out of the penalty box and we can absolutely come out with a win against them.”
Phil Novotny can be reached at email@example.com