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D2 Playoffs Recap

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By: Emma Schaefferr

D2 Playoff Bracket - FINAL

The College Hockey South Division 2 playoffs took place Feb. 16-18, 2024, in Huntsville, Alabama. The top eight teams made the trip to the Huntsville Ice Sports Center with hopes of being crowned conference champions. 



The opening game was a nail-biter, with the six-seed Clemson Tigers pulling off an upset against the three-seed Florida Gators. Despite outshooting Clemson 41-28, the Gators fell to the Tigers in overtime. 


Kegan Lampinen opened the scoring for Florida with the lone goal in the first period. The Gators tallied two more in the second, but their efforts would be put to a halt by Clemson goalie Parker Dietz. 


After three consecutive Gator goals, Herbert Kopf scored the Tigers’ first goal. The game’s momentum shifted. Despite being on the penalty kill three times during the third period, Clemson scored two more of their own, tying the game.  


Kopf, who opened the scoring for Clemson, stole the game with an overtime goal just one minute and 22 seconds in. The Tigers advanced with a 4-3 victory. 


The second game of the first round of the tournament was a hard-fought battle between the four-seed University of Central Florida Knights and the five-seed Tampa Spartans. The first period saw no goals, but the second period featured one UCF goal followed by two Tampa power-play goals. With just over two minutes remaining in the third period, the Knights capitalized on a power play, tying the game at 2-2.


The game went into overtime and eventually a shootout. Tampa goalie Sebastian Fontana was a brick wall in the shootout, stopping both shots he faced. 


UCF goalie Jackson Barton blocked only one of the three shots he faced. Spartans Ethan Gelman and Brendan Sickles beat Barton to the back of the net, securing the shootout win for the Spartans. 


Game three featured the one-seed Florida Atlantic Owls versus the eight-seed Vanderbilt Commodores. FAU outshot the Commodores 37-24. Neither team lit up the scoreboard in the first two periods, but FAU put on a fiery display in the third.  


Leon Biller got the Owls rolling to start the final frame. His teammate Keith Goldberg followed his lead, scoring the game-winning goal on the power play. But Biller was not done - he pulled off a hat trick, putting the Commodores down 4-0. 


Vanderbilt responded, but it was too little too late. FAU was still hungry, adding one more goal to their count before the final buzzer sounded. The Owls defeated the Commodores 5-1. 


The final game of the opening round was between the two-seed Tennessee Volunteers and the seven-seed Alabama at Huntsville Chargers. The Volunteers commanded the game, more than doubling the Chargers’ shots on goal at 31-67. 


The Volunteers and Chargers split the score at one apiece after the first frame. However, that would be the only time the Chargers would beat Tennessee goalie Lincoln Simons. 


The second period was action-packed; Tennessee lit up the scoreboard three more times, and eight penalties were assessed between both teams. With much tension, the Volunteers sealed a victory in the third with two more goals. Tennessee saw contributions from six different goal-scorers, overpowering the Chargers 6-1. 



The second day of playoffs kicked off with the seventh-place game between the Commodores and the Chargers. The game was nothing short of thrilling - the first period featured three goals from the Commodores and two from the Chargers. 


A high-powered second period saw three goals from each team. Charger Keaton Watts was red-hot, earning a hat trick during the period. The Commodores had a 6-5 lead heading into a back-and-forth third period. 


The Chargers opened the scoring in the third, but Vanderbilt responded. Huntsville hit the back of the net two more times, but Vanderbilt could only retaliate once. 


Despite going on the penalty kill twice during the third period, the Chargers tied the game. Kolton Watts secured the come-from-behind win for the Chargers, earning them seventh place in the tournament. Vanderbilt fell 8-9 to Huntsville and took eighth place. 


The fifth-place game was between two in-state foes: the Knights and Gators. Florida came out seeking revenge, with goals from four Gators. UCF was held off to just one goal in the first.


The only goal of the second period belonged to UCF’s Matthew Scribner. The Gators racked up two more in the third, with their final being a short-handed goal by Joshua Weinstein. 


Gators goalie Connor Lee excelled, allowing the Knights just two goals on 26 shots. The Gators had six goals on 32 shots. Florida clinched the fifth-place title with a 6-2 win, holding the Knights to sixth place. 


The second round began with the Spartans and Volunteers on the ice. Tennessee’s Tyler Iles got the Volunteers going with the lone goal in the first. Tennessee hauled in three more during the second period, with Tampa unresponsive.


The Spartans finally hit the back of the net less than a minute into the third, but the Volunteers weren’t done - they scored two more during the third and knocked out the Spartans. Tennessee once again put on a clinic. With 51 shots on goal, Tennessee collected a 6-1 victory over Tampa.


The final game of the second round was a close contest between Clemson and FAU. The Owls had a 3-2 lead entering the final frame, but the Tigers were not going to back down. 


Clemson’s Herbert Kopf got the ball rolling for the Tigers, scoring two goals to start the third period. The Owls’ Leon Biller, fresh off his hat trick in the previous game, countered with his own unassisted goal, but the Tigers answered with two more to pull off the win. Despite both teams tied at 38 shots on goal, the Tigers edged out the Owls, advancing to the final round with a 6-4 victory.



The final day of the tournament kicked off with a tight match-up between the FAU Owls and Tampa Spartans for third place. The shots on goal were once again even at 45 apiece.


After being down 2-1 to the Spartans at the end of the second period, Leon Biller and Matias Weir, recently named College Hockey South Most Valuable Player,  rallied the Owls, securing the come-from-behind win. Tampa took home fourth place and FAU third in a 3-2 game. 


The championship game was between the Tennessee Volunteers and Clemson Tigers. Despite outshooting the Volunteers 36-32, the Tigers fell 4-1. Tennessee goalie Patrick Green held his ground during the first and second periods, allowing no goals.


The Volunteers were up 4-0 going into the third. Clemson was allowed its only goal by Green in the third. 


The Tigers put on an impressive display, advancing to the championships and earning second place after entering the tournament as the six-seed, defeating both the No. 1 and No. 3 seeds along the way. 


Nonetheless, the Tennessee Volunteers were yearning for a championship. After fighting until the end, the Volunteers returned to Rocky Top with their first College Hockey South championship in 15 years, second in team history (first in 2009). 


With his 35 save performance, Green was awarded the Verbero Most Valuable Player of the Championship Game.

D2 Champions - Tennessee


ABOUT College Hockey South: Founded in 2008, College Hockey South is a 29-school, 46 team intercollegiate hockey conference spanning seven southeastern U.S. states that competes in AAU College Hockey. College Hockey South is a 501(c)3 not for profit organization.

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