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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Texas A&M hockey defeats Texas 4-2 on Senior Night

Photo by By Lawrence Smelser

Foward Spencer Delman faces off against O’Reilly.

After a slow first period, a quick second and anxiety filled third, the Texas A&M hockey team pulled out a 4-2 victory over the University of Texas Friday night at Spirit Ice Arena.

In front of a sold-out crowd on senior night, the Aggies (16-7-1) played an extremely physical game, which led to a constant stream of penalties, but dominated the Longhorns in possession.

Texas (14-10-0) came onto the ice unable to match A&M’s strong performance, even with major penalty advantages. Throughout the night Texas was only able to make ten shots on goal in comparison to A&M’s 35.

Senior forward Andrew Hoefer said the entire team was excited to play longtime rival Texas, for senior night, which for the eleven seniors on the team would be their last.

“It’s always about the crowd,” Hoefer said. “One of the best things in my college career is getting to play Texas with a packed crowd.” 

In the puck drop, A&M won the faceoff, setting the tone of the game in which the Aggies would consistently keep ahead of Texas.

Despite the exciting start, the first quarter was slow for both teams, offering only hits and penalties.  Texas defenseman Cameron Booth received the first penalty of the night, a two-minute roughing call. Even with the power play advantage the Aggies failed to score before the end to the first period.

“It was frustrating in the first period,” forward Price Hernandez said. “But we knew we were dominating the game so we knew we were going to score. So we weren’t trying to get down on the bench and we’re a good team so we figured we were going to win this one.”  

The failure to put points on the board, and a subsequent Texas goal by forward Nico Garafano 11 minutes in was a major influence into playing a more physical and serious game for the Aggies. 

“They got that first goal but we bounced back,” Hoefer said. “That’s A&M – Aggies don’t quit. We got back [on the ice] and got a goal, got another one.”

In a quick turnaround A&M put a point on the board when Svondrk scored his first goal of the night with an assist from forwards Brandon Steele and Chris Schultz, ending the second period at 1-1.

“Really we had two choices – we were going to see the whole crowd swaying, or we were going to shake hands and go to the locker room and be upset,” Head coach Sean Boyle said. “Really we had to battle for twenty minutes to make sure we didn’t go back to the locker room upset that we lost another game we shouldn’t have.”

The third period came to the peak of excitement.  After his goal at the end first, Svondrk came in early to the third with his second goal of the night assisted by Schultz and O’Reilly. Four minutes later, forward Ryo Yoshida put up Texas’ second point evening things up at 2-2.

Then with 13:44 remaining in the third period, forward Colton Wayne provided an instant response and scored giving the maroon and white a 3-2 advantage.

As the Aggies fought to keep their slight lead, forward Michael O’Reilly sunk it in past Michael Hutto, the Texas goalie, with an assist from Hoefer, giving A&M room to breathe, at 4-2.

The last ten minutes of the game tested not only the spirit, but the Aggies’ stamina. Among many penalties called against A&M, the team was left to face a six on three Texas power play with almost two minutes left. Exceptional defense was played, especially by goalie Ethan Palmer, which helped seal the victory. Palmer recorded eight saves on the night.

“In penalty kills, whenever you’re blocking shots, you’re laying down your body for your team,” Hoefer said. “It gets everyone on the team, everyone on the bench jazzed up and excited and you’re literally laying your body on the line and it hurts, it doesn’t feel good to block a shot so the guys who were laying down with two minutes left in the game while we were trying to hold onto the lead is big, it’s huge.”

When the clock expired ensuring Texas A&M a win, the team celebrated by singing the War Hymn as Texas players skated off of the ice.

“It was a great game,” Svondrk said. “The boys were playing hard all night. The crowd was ecstatic. It was loud all night long. It was the best game I’ve ever played in my life, playing my 16 years of hockey – I loved every minute of it.”
The Aggies head to the Ice and Golf Center in San Antonio Saturday to play the Texas State Bobcats and will face the Longhorns once again next Thursday at the El Paso County Events Center for their first game of the Texas Collegiate Hockey Conference playoffs.

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