Friday evening was a great night for FGCU, as our D3 squad dominated and defeated the Wilmington, NC Seahawks (4-2) in order to face off with the Ole Mississipps Rebels for a late Saturday matinee match up on South Carolina ice.
By the looks of the penalties tally almost filling up the score sheet, it may be safe to say this was a knock down, drag out physical match as neither team wanted to pack to leave this tournament. In the scoring department, FGCU ran the opening period again for Saturday's match much in the way they did Friday evening.
The goal rally launched within a three minute time frame in the first period with (#17) Kristian Avellanet striking first for FGCU at (4:23), as he sank one past Josh Hukill, in net for Ole Miss. This would shortly be followed by two more goals for FGCU by (#26) Mike Piatek at (1:56) and (#11) Nick Schilson at (0:41) to give FGCU a three goal lead heading into the second period.
Once again, FGCU was out shot by their opponent early on (14-6), but Kyle Torres remained solid in net for this face off. As mentioned also, the penalty tally ran at 9 for the period, with 6 of them to FGCU. So the penalty kill of the squad needs to be noted again and to lead the game by three goals to boot.
The second period opened with Ole Miss getting on the board with a goal scored at (16:31) by (#23) Dan Warnecke sinking one past Torres, in the FGCU net. Mr. Warnecke would strike again at (0:17) for a second contribution to the Ole Miss tally. This two goal gain on FGCU would not last long as (#8) Matt Casey did slam a goal home for FGCU to maintain a two goal cushion, heading into the last intermission.
The Ole Miss strike back can be contributed a bit to the fact that 6 of 7 penalties handed out in the middle period were attributed to FGCU. Unless your penalty killing is an unbeaten force, to run on it late in games while attempting to maintain a lead is an uphill climb and can especially be on any goal tender.
The final period came to center ice and the Rebels came out firing to take this game in the first ten minutes. Between (15:37) and (7:08) it was only Ole Miss getting on the board and actually taking the the lead, after FGCU had ruled out of the gate early on. It looked like a clean win for the Rebels, until (#20) Nick Mulerno slammed to tying goal past Hukill to force an overtime period of play for Ole Miss to take this game.
The fact that either team lead this game while spending the most time in the penalty box astounds this fan, but that is exactly how this game played out. Ole Miss ruled the punishing box in the third. Maybe the penalty kill is the strong force in the ACHA realm, it appears to actually make these boys work harder and that is how you do successfully kill penalties, and grab the lead in a key game.
Overtime appeared to be mainly on the offensive as there were no penalties served; however, the outcome was not great for the FGCU D3 squad, as at (9:52) Dan Warnecke slammed the game winner to advance Ole Miss in Regionals and secure a lovely hat trick for this intense game. Unfortunately for FGCU, this was the end of their road this season with great achievements, lessons learned and hopefully taken into the next upcoming season.
Congratulations to the Ole Mississippi Rebels for this win and becoming the South Regional Champions, in South Carolina. Best to them moving onto Nationals, later in March. Website for ACHA Nationals 2013: http://www.missouristatehockey.com/news/d3-nationals-info/
Congratulations to the FGCU D3 Men's Eagles squad for a great season and a trip to Regionals in 2013. Battling to the end is the hockey this fan loves and it was provided all season long. Here's to 2013-14 and clean, fresh ice to tear it up again!