USF Ice Bulls Split Weekend Series With UCF
Photo by Carl Wagenfohr
The University of South Florida Ice Bulls faced off against the University of Central Florida Knights, ranked first in the ACHA D-III south region, in two games this past weekend.
They more than held their own.
The Bulls played the Knights to a scoreless tie through three periods and a sudden-death overtime on Friday at UCF's home rink in Orlando, only to lose in an overtime shoot-out.
Bulls' goalie Jason Smith stood on his head, making 52 saves.
"Our goalie came to the rink tonight and stole a point all by himself," USF forward Rick Merlo said.
The Ice Bulls had trouble staying out of the penalty box and spent most of the first two periods playing short-handed.
Despite spending long stretches killing penalties, South Florida had its chances, hitting the post twice, but couldn't find the back of the net.
The Knights manage two goals in the shoot-out to earn the win.
On Saturday night, the teams headed west on I-4 to face off at the Ice Sports Forum in Brandon, where the Bulls defeated the Knights 5-4 in front of a large and enthusiastic crowd.
South Florida got off to a quick start when Connor Lyons scored just 20 seconds into the game.
UCF settled down and tied the game 1-1 about five minutes later.
At 15:14 in the second, Merlo put the Bulls on top again, but the lead was short-lived. The Knights answered just 42 seconds later, knotting the game at two.
The see-saw battle continued when Ricky Nelson notched the first of his two goals, ripping a shot from the top of the circle with his team short-handed. But once again, the Bulls couldn't hold on to their lead. The Knights answered again 1:17 later, and the second period ended in a 3-3 tie.
The Ice Bulls finally took control of the game early in the third.
After delivering a passionate locker room speech during the second intermission, team captain Sean Williams backed up his words, banging in a goal just one minute into the final period.
USF stretched its lead to two 4:18 later.
As Merlo was falling to the ice, he tipped a pass to Nelson, who ripped the puck into the top corner of the net.
The Knights managed to sneak one more past Smith, who played another strong game in net for the Bulls, but South Florida was able to hold on for the win.
The Ice Bulls head to Atlanta next weekend for the ACHA Division 3 regional tournament. "This was a good win to give us some momentum going into regionals," Bulls' coach Jay Jodoin said.
For more information on the Ice Bulls go to www.icebulls.org
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