The USF Ice Bulls started the Southeastern Collegiate Hockey Conference (SCHC) playoffs with a 6-5 win over Miami on Friday night in their new home, the Florida Hospital Center Ice facility in Wesley Chapel.
The Hurricanes, dressing only 13 skaters, outshot USF 49-46 (these games tend to have a lot of shots). Freshman goalie Samuel Coleman kept the Ice Bulls alive with 44 saves on the night, among them a handful in the final seconds to prevent the game from going into overtime. USF defenseman Alex Rhoads netted two goals, including a laser from the point that turned out to be the game winner.
Miami opened the scoring at 16:09 in the first period after the Bulls owned the first 10 minutes. Freshman Kenny Weightman would tie the game up in the final minute of the first period after Ethan Corrow danced his way into the offensive zone and slipped the puck across the crease.
Miami struck again less than four minutes into the second period, and USF answered four minutes later. As a 4-on-4 expired and Miami went onto the power play, Huw Beveystock buried a pass from Daniel Hoeflich to tie the game up again.
Halfway through the second, Bull Angelo Pata got tangled with several players, including a teammate, and was slow to get up off the ice. He was slightly upset about the lack of a call and responded by crushing several Miami players during the course of play.
Pata and the rest of the Bulls wore the outmanned Hurricanes down and were rewarded with two late second period goals.The Bulls first scored on a 4-on-3 power play at 17:50 from Alex Rhoads, then an even strength 4-on-4 goal from Pata after teammate Stephen DeMarco beat three Miami defenders to give Pata a wide open look at net.
The third period started 4-on-4 after a USF penalty was negated by an unsportsmanlike minor to Miami goalie Mark Zapson. The Bulls cashed in on a tired Miami team to make it 5-2 with over 18 minutes left to play.
Enter Hurricane Nicholas Panzo. Joining the game in the third period (no, I don’t know how he was allowed to show up and play), Panzo scored 23 seconds after USF’s fifth goal, then assisted on a goal two minutes later to pull the Canes within one.
Needing a boost, Rhoads delivered a lightning bolt from the point at 8:57. Stealing the puck, he ripped a goal top shelf to seal the deal for USF. Miami would pull one goal back with 5 minutes to play, but their thin bench ultimately doomed the Canes as they faltered down the stretch.
With the win, the Ice Bulls are guaranteed two more games in the SCHC playoffs. Their semifinal game against top-seeded FGCU is just underway this afternoon, and the winner faces either Tampa or C.Florida in the final.
- Miami’s Hunter Kronk scored a hat trick, but the order of his goals was unclear (I had to hand write notes while broadcasting live on Bulls Radio)
- A total of 12 penalties were dished out, five to USF, seven to Miami. Four of Miami’s penalties were against Hurricane Zachary Baron.
- Miami thought the refs were awful, and they ruined the final thoughts of the Bulls Radio broadcast making sure that everyone in the state knew.
- On that note, that ice rink has the ability to get LOUD. Just a handful of people could be absolutely deafening. If you’re a student, go to the Ice Bulls games and make noise. It’s easier than going to Raymond James, and it’s definitely not too hot. You could be the beginning of one of the loudest traditions in college hockey.