From Eagle Media
By Jeffrey Hrunka
To close out the regular season, the FGCU division II club hockey team returned to Hertz Arena to play the 13-5-1 Northeastern University Huskies on Feb. 2 and 3. FGCU entered this game with a 25-3-1 record after splitting their doubleheader last weekend against the Miami University RedHawks. This weekend was the same story for the Eagles as they lost their first game 5-3 and won their second game 4-3 in an overtime thriller.
FGCU entered this game ranked first in the ACHA Southeast rankings. They looked to remain inside the top two to be granted automatic byes to the ACHA playoffs. The team standing in the way of this opportunity were the Huskies, who were first in the ACHA Northeast rankings.
The Eagles started the first game with an advantage, scoring their first goal in the first few minutes. Senior forward Jack Cohen cut through the Huskies’ defense to score. He was assisted by junior defenseman Holden Hertog and senior defenseman Grant Bondy.
Northeastern University scored the following goal to tie the game 1-1 midway through the first period. Senior forward Dawson Zahorian broke this tie to score the next goal for the Eagles. The seesaw nature of the game continued throughout the rest of the period as the Huskies scored yet another goal to make the score 2-2.
Both teams had been evenly matched throughout the first period, with the Huskies having the edge. They had more possession of the puck through the first 20 minutes of play, yet the Eagles’ defensive effort had prevented the Huskies from having an advantage.
At the start of the second period, the Eagles were immediately on the back foot. The Huskies took the first blow to give them a 3-2 lead. The Eagles immediately rallied back, with Zahorian scoring a goal. It was the final goal they obtained in the game, as the Huskies dominated the rest of the game.
Once the Eagles faced the Huskies’ pressure, they had a difficult time getting the puck to their side of the ice. FGCU stayed in the game due to Northeastern missing countless opportunities to go up by multiple goals. This quickly changed with the Huskies scoring their fourth goal to end the period 4-3.
With the Eagles on the back foot, they upped the aggression to try to win possessions from Northeastern. Both teams got into scuffles that were quickly broken up, resulting in no penalties for either team. No matter what the Eagles did, they could not obtain another goal for the rest of the game. In the latter minutes, the Eagles pulled their goalie to have an extra skater on the ice. This backfired as the Huskies scored their fifth and final goal of the game to win it 5-3.
The second game marked the final one for many Eagles, as it was senior night. The Eagles looked to send them off the right way with one last victory in front of their home crowd.
FGCU started the game in a dominant fashion as they scored three goals in the first period. Junior forward Thomas Zebley punched in the first of the three goals to give the Eagles the early lead. This lead was extended with Cohen scoring his second goal of the weekend, his 11th season. The flurry of goals ended with graduate student and forward Wyatt Engelmann scoring his final goal in Hertz Arena.
Entering the second period, the Eagles had all the momentum with their three goal advantage. That advantage quickly vanquished as penalties started to plague the Eagles. The Huskies scored their first goal of the game off of a power play to make the score 3-1. The aggressive nature of both teams persisted as a scuffle broke out between both sides. Luckily for both teams, no penalties were called.
The Huskies scored another goal 14 minutes into the second period to close the gap of the game down to a singular goal. The score stayed the same throughout the rest of the period, with it ending with the Eagles up 3-2. The game started to look eerily similar to the one the night prior, with the Eagles losing it in the second period.
FGCU began the third period in the wrong direction as the Huskies immediately scored off of a power play. This tied up the score with about 15 minutes left in the period. A fast paced game in the first period led to a stalemate in the third. A standstill that lasted through the duration of the period, sending the game into overtime.
Leading FGCU goal scorer and sophomore forward Shayne Tomlinson took center stage in overtime. Although the Huskies got possession of the puck directly after the face off, the Eagles immediately gained possession after a missed shot. Cohen brought the puck down the ice off of the rebound. He passed it to Tomlinson to win the game only 20 seconds into overtime.
The Eagles won the game 4-3, which brought their record to 26-4-1 as the regular season came to a close. FGCU exits the regular season ranked first in the ACHA Southeast rankings as of Feb. 8. If the Eagles remain inside the top two when the final rankings come out, they move on to play for the ACHA Men’s Division II National Championship from March 11 to 15 in St. Louis, Missouri.
(Originally published at https://eaglenews.org/31360/sports/fgcu-division-ii-club-hockey-closes-the-regular-season-in-overtime-thriller/)