By: Reed Gossard
The UAB Blazers return home from Knoxville, Tennessee with their heads held high.
This past weekend, the Blazers dueled twice over with the Tennessee Ice Vols and accomplished a proud milestone for the fledgling program, finishing off Tennessee in both contests and cementing a season sweep of the “the oldest and most established hockey team in the Southern United States.”- https://twitter.com/icevolshockey?lang=en
In a tight first stanza, played out at the Knoxville Civic Coliseum late Friday night, an early goal by the Volunteers was met by an equalizer from Cameron Fulgenzi, also early in the first period.
After a Zach Rood goal, Fulgenzi again scored to make it 3-1 Blazers in the top half of the second period. Tennessee then scored two quick goals to make it 3-3 all, before Jacob Hornsby and Kyle Feeney scored to make it 5-3 heading into the final act.
A tightly contested third period saw two more Ice Vol goals to make it 5-5 with under five minutes to go, until Charlie Corbett scored the game winner off of a nice feed from Hornsby at the three minute mark. Sam Schilling, in goal for the Blazers, made a last second pad save to stave off overtime and give UAB a 6-5 win, one game away from sweeping.
Hornsby tallied five assists and a goal, while Fulgenzi (2), Rood, Feeney, and Corbett netted goals of their own for the Blazers.
Saturday night’s contest was decided much quicker than Friday’s game.
Cameron Dickinson scored the lone goal of the first period in a furious three-on-one forecheck. Dale Gaskins and James Martin came crashing into the Tennessee defensive zone, creating room for Dickinson to fire off a quick wrist shot that bounced off of the orange shoulder pad of the opposing goalie. Dickinson swiftly rebounded the puck and without a moment to spare netted his sole goal of the game.
The second period belonged to Kyle Feeney.
Relatively limited in his offensive output for much of the first portion of the season, Feeney added four second period goals to bring his weekend scoring total to five as he helped bury the Volunteers on their home ice. Three of his goals came betweeen the thirteenth and fifteenth minutes of the second act, a lightning fast barrage that stifled any chances of the men in orange gaining any momentum.
Feeney, on where the scoring outburst came from:
“I know if I put myself in the best position to score a goal I have done my job on the ice. They teach this stuff all the way from Mini-Mites to the Show; effort is everything. I was just in the right place at the right time and my teammates executed our offense beautifully, giving me the ability to score like I did.”
Dillon Gasparek netted his first two goals of the season in the third period. The center dominated on the ice, leveraging his six-foot-three-inch frame to deliver brutal, possession ending hits while also adding some offensive flare to the mix. He lead an impressive third line that scored three of the eight Blazer goals.
Gasparek, on what fueled the offensive output:
“The third line really wanted to bounce back after a tough night on Friday. We were a little sloppy, and we wanted to go into the game on Saturday with a different mindset, putting our focus back on the basics. I think the three goals speak for themselves.”
Schilling, playing as a winger in Saturday night’s game, scored his first goal of the season in the third period as well, off of a beautiful assist placed right in front of the net by Dickinson.
Tennessee scored two in the final frame to make the end score an 8-3 UAB win. Aaron Roe played in goal, facing forty-one shots and saving thirty-eight of them for a 0.93 save percentage, turning in another solid night of net-minding to sweep the hometown Ice Vols.
Dickinson, Gaskins, Martin, and Schilling all earned assists during the game.
The Blazers (6-2) will face the University of Alabama, Huntsville next, in Huntsville on October 26th and the 27th. Follow along on the team’s website http://uabhockeyclub.com for all of the latest news and coverage of your UAB Men’s Ice Hockey team.