Ice hockey thrives under Jacksonville sun

Spinnaker

By Josh Brannock
Sports Editor

Though Florida is known more for its sunny beaches and warm winter weather, Division III ice hockey features multiple teams from the state at the top of the standings in the South division.

Currently in its first season of play, the UNF ice hockey team has shown the Division III world that it will be ready to make a run at the championship next year.

Holding a 15-2 record heading into the final month of the regular season, UNF has consistently won by large margins over its opponents. In their final two games of the fall portion of the season, the Ospreys won back-to-back games over the Florida Institute of Technology by a combined score of 38-2.

The only two losses the Ospreys have on the year came from teams that were supposed to beat UNF. The team fell to the University of South Florida 11-1 Oct. 22 in Tampa. It played with only six dressed skaters because a majority of the team was injured or suspended for the game. The team did, however, split the series against the Bulls. UNF beat USF the night before in a thrilling 5-4 win Oct. 21 after being down by three goals at one point.

The team’s other loss came against Division II powerhouse Life University Oct. 1 at home. In UNF’s only home loss of the season, Life beat down the Ospreys and controlled all sections of the ice to win 8-5. But UNF would have the last laugh as it beat Life in Georgia in back-to-back games to win the season series three games to one.

UNF will finish its inaugural season as an official American Collegiate Hockey Association member as it plays Kennesaw State in Georgia Jan. 6 and 7. The Ospreys won two games at home against the Owls — 7-1 Nov. 11 and 7-1 Nov. 12.

There are four notable games remaining for UNF, including two home games against Division II Duke University Jan. 13 and 14. Then the team’s next two games will be against Division III team University of Florida Jan. 20 and 21. Though UNF’s games against UF are scheduled as away, both will be played at UNF’s home rink, Jacksonville Ice and Sportsplex.

But regardless of its record, the season for UNF will be over Jan. 28. Do to ACHA rules, the team will not be able to play in the post season because this is its first season of official play.