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AAU National College Hockey Tournament Kicks Off Big Weekend



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The AAU College Hockey Nationals started on Wednesday and, with a number teams from the state of Florida, there are plenty of local stories.

Division II tournament play starts today with a number of state teams in action — including FAU, UCF and Florida.

The University of Miami is the top seed in Division III and starts play on Saturday.

Florida Atlantic (18-4-1) is the top-seeded team in DII.

The Owls had dominated play within the state up until the College Hockey South playoffs, where they finished third.

FAU opened the season on a six-game winning streak, and later won five straight.

The Owls’ lone tie came in a battle against Tampa’s DI squad, but they went 4-0 against Tampa’s D-2 team — including winning the third-place game in the College Hockey South tournament.

FAU is joined in DII pool play with Embry-Riddle, whom they went 2-0 against in the regular season.

The Owls are led by some familiar faces to the South Florida hockey world.

Senior Matias Weir, who represented the Argentina National Team in the AmeriGol LATAM Cup, scored 20 goals with 54 points in just 23 games.

It will be a homecoming of sorts for goalie Rocco Bruno, who is from Pennsylvania.

Bruno put up an impressive 2.00/.933 while going 10-2-0.

Seeded behind the Owls is the University of Florida (14-7-0). The Gators finished sixth in the CHS D-2 standings but get a surprisingly high No. 2 seed here.

The Gators went 0-3 against DI competition, and split three of their series against DII opponents.

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Florida did sweep USF in three games, but UF’s resume is hardly as impressive as some others in this tournament.

This does not mean they don’t have the tools to win.

Keegan Lampinan leads the Gators with 16 goals and 29 points, followed closely by Michael Katz (13-11, 24).

UCF (16-9-3) is the No. 8 seed.

The Knights started their season with an 8-5 loss to DIII Miami, who had been bounced from DII after a one-win season.

Some would call that a bad omen, but Miami went on a run that saw the Canes take home DIII hardware, and UCF went 9-3-1 in its next 13 games.

They ended up splitting the series with Miami 2-2, and picked up an additional DIII win against Hofstra, but went 4-5-2 in league play over other tournament teams.

UCF is perfectly seeded but I don’t expect them to make a run.

The Knights had five skaters over 20 points, including forward Roberts Viguls, who scored 19 goals.

In net, Jackson Barton got the bulk of the work, going 14-8-3 in 26 starts, with a 3.30/.899. Pretty impressive in a scorers league. 

Speaking of the Hurricanes, they are the top seed in the DIII tournament which starts Saturday.

Division III.features some up-and-coming teams, paired with many “B” teams from DII competition.

The two Florida teams represented — UM and Florida Southern — are budding rivals, and not only finished 1-2 in the Conference, but in the DIII National Rankings.

I fully expect to see these two in the National Championship on Wednesday.

Miami (19-4-0) is a true worst-to-first story.

After winning just one game in 2022-23, and playing a short bench due to lack of participation, a new era of Hurricanes Hockey began this season.

This culminated in a CHS title.

With many of the incoming freshmen having to compete in tryouts, and a solid core group of upperclassmen, Miami has exceeded expectations — and then some.

Not only have they been invited to rejoin DII next year, but they will add a DIII “B” squad.

Needless to say, the future is bright for he Hurricanes.

Focusing on this season, though, they went an impressive 5-3 against their DII opponents.

When they won, they dominated, scoring 4+ goals in all but two of their 19 wins (both were against Florida State).

Their toughest competition this season has been against Florida Southern.

They split their two regular season matchups, falling 6-5 in Lakeland, and winning 6-0 in Kendall.

Even more impressive, they won the Championship game on the Mocs’ home ice 4-0. 

The Canes had two players score 40+ points. Senior forward Mathieu Schneider Jr. (son of the 20-year NHL veteran) scored 22 goals with 42 points in just 22 games.

Fellow senior forward Thomas Ferry II added 23 goals and 42 points in 21 games.

The Hurricanes had scoring from all sides of the ice, including 43 power play goals and 20 shorthanded; Miami had players score hat-tricks 12 times over the course of the season.

In net, Harlan Jackson came into his own this season, although he made his debut a few weeks into the year, and was shaky to start.

Once settled in, he finished 10-2-0 with a 2.74/.878.

When you score at the clip the Hurricanes do, goaltending might be a non-factor in this tournament.

AAU National College Hockey Championship

  • FAU schedule — Today: vs. Ramapo, 9:15 p.m.; Saturday: vs. Embry-Riddle, Noon; Sunday: vs. Penn State Harrisburg, 5:15; Monday: Quarterfinals, TBA; Tuesday: Semifinals, TBA; Wednesday: Final, 3:30.
  • Florida schedule — Today: vs. Neumann, 6; Saturday: vs. Anna Maria, 3:15; Sunday: vs. Mass Maritime, 5:15; Monday: Quarterfinals, TBA; Tuesday: Semifinals, TBA; Wednesday: Final, 3:30.
  • Tampa DII schedule — Today: SUNY Brockport, 9:15 a.m.; Saturday: vs. Union, 3:15; Sunday: vs. Tennessee, 2; Monday: Quarterfinals, TBA; Tuesday: Semifinals, TBA; Wednesday: Final, 3:30.
  • UCF schedule — Today: vs. Alabama-Hunstville, 9:15 a.m. Saturday: vs. Farmingdale State, 6; Sunday: vs. High Point, 5; Monday: Quarterfinals, TBA; Tuesday: Semifinals, TBA; Wednesday: Final, 3:30.
  • Miami (DIII) schedule — Saturday: vs. William & Mary, 9 a.m.; Sunday: vs. Rochester, 8 p.m.; Monday: vs. Stony Brook, 2; Tuesday: Semifinals TBA; Wednesday: Finals, noon.

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