Hi there! For those of you who do not know me at Raw Charge (which is probably most of you), I’m Eric Seeds, one of the writers over at the Jackets Cannon. I’m here tonight, however, to recap the USF Ice Bulls making the ACHA debut here in Columbus tonight against the Calvin College Knights from Grand Rapids, Michigan.
If you’re unfamiliar with the USF Ice Bulls and their story, here’s GeoFitz4’s article on the situation. To sum it up briefly: the Ice Bulls play club hockey in Division 3 for the University of South Florida, meaning they do not get scholarships for playing for USF. They play for love of the game.
The team qualified for the ACHA Nationals here in Columbus, Ohio by defeating the University of South Carolina and Liberty University in their regional matchups. However, the team faced a financial crisis. Despite qualifying, the team was struggling to afford the trip to Columbus to compete. The USF Ice Bulls started a GoFundMe page to help with expenses.
Donations poured in. The USF Ice Bulls, with the help of 170 generous donations from wonderful people, raised $11,620 in 16 days. They were off to Columbus for ACHA Nationals.
The Ice Bulls, the 4th seed from the South Region, drew the Knights, the 1st seed from the North Region, in game one of Pool C play. The pool also includes Farmingdale State, the 2nd seed in the Atlantic Region, and Colorado State University, the 3rd seed from the Pacific Region.
Pool play takes place from Tuesday, March 14 through Thursday, March 16. On Friday, the winners of each pool face off in two semi-final games (Pool D plays Pool B at 5:00 PM, Pool C plays Pool A at 8:00 PM), with the winners of each semi-final playing in the ACHA Division 3 Championship on Saturday night at 7:30 PM.
With an opportunity to see the Ice Bulls fulfill their dreams in person, I wanted to take advantage of the chance. The Raw Charge staff asked the staff at The Cannon to promote the GoFundMe page, and I took an interest in the team. Because they played near my house, I wanted to take the opportunity to lend my support in person.
Achariya reached out to me and asked if I would be interested in recapping the game, and I enthusiastically accepted for an opportunity to share the story of these young men fulfilling their hockey dreams. Thank you to all at Raw Charge for giving me the opportunity to showcase the USF Ice Bulls and their story here.
Tonight, the Ice Bulls opened their ACHA Nationals tournament with the Calvin College Knights. Let’s see how they did.
The USF Bulls starters tonight were Lukas Medo (F), Huw Baveystock (F), Daniel Hoeflich (D), Michael Budd (F), Brian Springer (D). The first period started with the Knights on the front foot. The Knights exerted extended pressure in the offensive zone and were rewarded at the 2:31 mark. The first period continued in much the same way with the Knights notching 3 more goals for a 4-0 lead at the end of the first period. The Knights goals were scored by David Zweirs, Keegan Weckesser, Nick Hirst, and Frank Moreschi. Could the Bulls respond in the second?
The Bulls opened the second period with a hard push looking to get back into the game, including forcing an excellent pad save from the Calvin netminder at 4:25 of the period. Calvin changed netminders at 10:34. Calvin scored twice more before the end of the period, mostly against the run of play in the second period (which had been spent in the Calvin zone, with no rewards) behind goals from Zweirs (2) and Hirst (2).
With two periods down, the Bulls needed to respond. Could they find a gear to get the USF fans going and spark some momentum?
BULLS GOAL! Thirteen second into the period, the Bulls would get on the board behind Michael Budd's first of the tournament. An excellent moment for Bulls here in Chiller North.
Unfortunately, that would be the lone highlight for the third period. The Knights would tack on four more goals as the period wound down. Those goals would be scored by Zweirs (3), Moreschi (2), Ethan Stafford and Ryan Racanelli.
Lost in the final score will be a solid goaltending performance from Bulls netminder Samuel Coleman, who made some nice saves throughout the night and was a steadying presence on the back end all night long.
The outcome may have gone against the Bulls, but I'm proud of them for never giving up against the number one seed Knights. They showed heart and fight until the final horn, and never stopped looking for another goal as the game went along.
The Bulls have two more games this week, Wednesday at 5:00 against Farmingdale State, and Thursday at 1:45 against Colorado State. I will be cheering for these Bulls, even if I cannot make it to the arena.
Congratulations to the Ice Bulls again on your fantastic season and qualifying for the ACHA Nationals. You have made a lifelong fan out of me. I wish you the best of luck in the rest of the tournament and beyond!