GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The University of Florida men’s ice hockey team is ready for the 2011-12 season to begin as the Ice Gators look to build upon an SECHC East Division Championship and back-to-back year’s as Tournament Champion runner-up.
Despite the loss of most of the team’s veterans and the addition of young players and two new coaches, “everyone is confident and excited about the upcoming season,” said captain Scott Schwartz.
While the team lacks the experience of games played in comparison to recent years, this year’s squad is more disciplined and is poised to make fewer mistakes and penalties.
While the upperclassman leadership has moved on, expectations haven’t changed. Winning the South Eastern Collegiate Hockey Conference Championship and making it to the National Championship tournament is the goal.
Schwartz said. “No one said we’re going to have the most talent, but one thing I can promise is that we’ll have the biggest heart.”
The Gators made a trip to the National Tournament two seasons ago, and fell just short last season.
Schwartz, Matt Stankowitz and Michael Dutka are expected to lead the team early on.Schwartz will be the anchor of the defense, and also contribute to the offensive attack. In 2010-11, Schwartz had 11 points in 15 games, including two power-play goals.
Stankowitz was fifth on the team last season with 29 points (13 Goals, 16 Assists) in 25 games played. Dutka had 15 points in 2010-11.
Goaltender Jake Lewis also returns. Lewis was third among SECHC goaltenders in wins last season (15) and was fifth in Goals Against Average (4.17).
Sophomores Dominic Djamco, Michael Jugan and Zach Roesch are expected to play important roles in this season. Jugan and Roesch combined for 13 points last season.
The Gators will drop the puck on the 2011-12 season against Mississippi State on Sept. 23 and 24. The first game will count toward the conference standings, while game two will only count toward non-conference play.