For the University of Tampa Men’s Ice Hockey team, last season was plagued with inconsistency. The team managed to blow out opponents like the Florida Institute of Technology by scores of 19-2 and 10-1, but also took some heavy losses along the course of the season. The team is already off to a good start, kicking off the season with a commanding win against the No. 7-ranked Miami Hurricanes last Friday.
The arena was filled with plenty of excitement and everyone was ready for the first puck drop of the season. Before any of the festivities were underway, fans stood together in solemn remembrance of 9/11. After a live rendition of the national anthem was sung, the arena came to life, marking the official start of the season.
The Spartans started the game fast, moving the puck around trying to get the first goal of the game. The game became very physical early on and the Spartans dominated both possession and shots on goal. Freshman center Garrett Torrico eventually broke the deadlock for the Spartans with a beautiful goal in the second period. Miami would equalize a few minutes later, and the teams headed into the final period tied at one a piece.
With six and a half minutes to play in the third period, sophomore defender Jake Peterson flew down the ice and broke the tie on a power play. Garrett Torrico scored an insurance goal just minutes later, and assistant captain Nick Martin scored on an empty net with seconds left to play. The Spartans took the first game of the season by a final score of 4-1.
“The success of the team can be credited to our core group of veterans that are returning and how well the rookies have been able to step in and pick right up where we left off. Freshman Garrett Torrico started off strong with two goals in the game. A lot of credit to our goalie Christian Hamlett as well, who carried the team through the weekend,” said junior defenseman Alex Carde.
In the second and final game of the series, the Spartans showed Miami that Friday was no fluke. In the past two seasons, the Spartans have won their opening game and subsequently lost the next. On Friday, that trend came to an end. Tampa started the game off strong, forcing Miami to make countless turnovers. Freshman blueliner Logan Underwood, of Glastonbury, CT, scored the first goal of the game, and the Spartans went up 8-2 after two periods. The third period was filled with penalties and saw the Spartans kill off a 5-on-3 power play. They would let up a few goals, but walked away victorious with a final score of 9-5.
“Our forechecking was really good this weekend. We struggled a bit with taking penalties at times but we prevailed in the end,” said assistant captain Nick Martin. “Jake Peterson definitely stood out this weekend with his puck control on defense and his ability to rush the puck up the ice.”
This was the first time the Spartans have swept the Miami Hurricanes and looked exceptionally strong this weekend. They’ll look to build on that momentum when they take on UCF this Friday.