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Solar Bears and UCF Knights celebrate historic moment

Monday, November 9th
Solar Bears and UCF Knights celebrate historic moment

The Amway Center played host to a collegiate hockey game for the first time in its history on Saturday night, as the University of Central Florida Knights were defeated by the visiting University of South Carolina Gamecocks by a score of 5-3 in front of a crowd of 2,220.

The game got underway following the conclusion of the earlier contest between the Solar Bears and the Florida Everblades; the start time was par for the course for the Knights hockey team, which normally plays its American Collegiate Hockey Association matches at the RDV Sportsplex Ice Den late in the evenings; the ability to utilize the larger venue was made possible by a collaborative effort of the Solar Bears, the Amway Center and the Central Florida Sports Commission.

Both teams played to a scoreless first period that saw UCF junior goalie Brody Sharp stop six shots, while sophomore Danny Collins denied 12 Knights attempts for South Carolina.

The Gamecocks opened scoring just 25 seconds into the second frame, before senior forward Ryan Sanders tied the score with a power-play goal for UCF at 8:14. South Carolina’s junior forward Aaron Beaver tallied at 14:12 to give his team a 2-1 lead.

The Knights would take the lead in the third period as junior blueliner Eric Knoppel scored a pair of goals on the man advantage just 73 seconds apart at 8:22 and 9:35.

Momentum would swing back in favor of South Carolina, as the team responded with goals from junior defensemen Kyle Ware and Julian DiPaolo at 12:28 and 14:12.

Ultimately, the Knights’ bid for the equalizer fell short late in regulation, as the Gamecocks sealed the game with an empty-net goal from senior forward Eric Patterson. However, the true victor was the sport of hockey as a whole, from the players to the fans for being able to take part in such a history-making moment.

CLICK HERE to view more photos from the UCF-USC game.

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