The No. 13 Florida Tech Panthers (7-4, 2-1 SSC) gave the No 1 Tampa Spartans (11-0, 3-0 SSC) all they could handle Wednesday, but the Spartans hung on for an 11-8 win at Panther Field in Melbourne.
The game started 85 minutes late due to bad weather in the area, and without lights on the field, it was a hectic time schedule but the game was able to be played to completion.
Tampa goalie Blake Ulmer made some huge saves in this one and seemed to come up big when the Panthers started to make their move. Ulmer and Panthers starter John Hulsman each had 16 saves in the contest.
Owen Miller and Charlie Bolesh scored three goals each for the victorious Spartans, while Daniel Fitzpatrick had two. Collin Stewart had a hat trick for the Panthers. He was the only multi-goal scorer for Florida Tech. Zach Rozgonyi had a goal and an assist.
Fitzpatrick got the Spartans on the board first 51 seconds in and that held up until Stewart tied it up with 5:35 left in the first. The Panthers took their only lead of the day after a goal by Griffin Martin with 4:16 left in the quarter, giving the Panthers a 2-1 advantage.
Miller scored a man-down goal 37 seconds later to tie things up at two. After Bolesh gave Tampa the lead, Miller would score again with 1:24 left in the first quarter to make it 4-2 Tampa.
Hulsman made four saves in the second quarter before the six-minute mark. The Panthers’ offense was unable to take advantage as both defenses played well in the first half of the quarter. Miller’s hat trick goal came with 4:17 left in the half, giving Tampa a 5-2 lead. Bolesh added his second of the day shortly after.
Justin Williams would score on the man-up for the Panthers with 1:12 left in the half off an assist from Rozgonyi. It took just 27 seconds for Rozgonyi to find the back of the net himself and the Panthers were down 6-4 at halftime.
It was a defensive battle to start the third quarter before Tampa finally broke through with a goal from Fitzpatrick with 4:25 left in the stanza. Nate Deplancke scored for the Panthers 59 seconds later, cutting the deficit to 7-5. Stewart got the Panthers to within one when he scored on a feed from Brennan Banks making it 7-6 as the game headed to the fourth quarter.
Ethan Paduch made it 8-6 47 seconds in, and both teams had penalties called shortly after that. Hulsman made saves 10 seconds apart on Cole Willard and Miller. Seconds later, the momentum changed for good.
With 9:42 left, Hulsman was called for a slashing penalty, meaning Connor Davis had to replace him in goal. The Panthers killed the penalty, but Hulsman could not come back in the net until there was a change in possession. Harry Kilkowski beat Davis with 7:33 left, giving Tampa a 9-6 lead. Hulsman came back in, but he was beaten by Matthew Beddow six seconds later, with Tampa’s 10th goal of the night. Bolesh got his hat trick with 4:28 left to put the visitors up 11-6.
Stewart got his hat trick with 2:15 left and Jakob Terpak scored the Panthers’ second straight goal with 1:44 left to close the gap to 11-8.
For more info: Tampa @ Florida Tech Box Score
The shots favored Tampa 44-40 with a 27-24 advantage in shots on goal. Faceoffs went in favor of Tampa 13-10. The Panthers went 16-for-18 on clears, while Tampa was 15-for-17. Each team had 14 turnovers, while the Panthers led in caused turnovers, 8-7.
The Panthers will look to bounce back Saturday at Palm Beach when they take on the Sailfish at 1:00 p.m.