This past weekend, the Tennessee Ice Vols earned big wins over Life University, 8-3, and Georgia Tech, 5-1, to move to 13-7-2 on the season.
For Tennessee, Friday’s game against the Life University Running Eagles was a stark contrast from an earlier contest between the two teams in Marietta, Georgia, which ended in a tie. Tennessee head coach Cole Burkhalter attributed the difference to his team’s energy.
“I think our guys were just energized, excited to get back on the ice,” Burkhalter said. “It was kind of a long, up-and-down, emotional semester for us first semester. But, our guys were excited to get back on the ice tonight, and it showed.”
Kyle Knell and Jacob Favory each notched two goals in the winning effort against Life, and Chris Weilandt earned his first hat trick of the season Saturday against Georgia Tech.
Weilandt had a five point weekend, also scoring a highlight goal and an assist Friday. He was on a two-on-one and dragged across the slot as the defender slid out of the play. Weilandt finished the play, going top shelf with the backhand.
Saturday, the Ice Vols scored twice in 37 seconds in the third period to clinch the victory over Georgia Tech.
After a Gage Despins goal opened the scoring for the Ice Vols in the first period, Georgia Tech responded to tie the game later in the first period. It was all Ice Vols from there, however, as Tennessee scored four goals over the next two periods to Georgia Tech’s zero.
For Burkhalter, the success of this past weekend was a culmination of the team coming together and young players getting experience over the past few months
“We’ve got a very young team,” Burkhalter said. “We’ve only got about four seniors on our team right now, so just getting those young guys the confidence and experience early on in the semester. We got stronger as a team going towards the end of the semester, and the guys are excited to be back, and those young guys do have that confidence.”
This weekend will be, perhaps, the greatest challenge for the Ice Vols yet. They will play four games in four days, starting with two games in Lexington, Kentucky, against the University of Kentucky, Friday and Saturday, then returning home for back-to-back games against Xavier Sunday and Monday.