Frozen Tide hoping for strong end to seasonBy Miranda Murphy | 01/17/2012 11:06pm
Better competition and a higher level of play has been the key for the University of Alabama hockey team’s success this year. The Frozen Tide will look to channel that success to new levels this season.
The No. 3 Frozen Tide trails only Florida Gulf Coast University and the University of Central Florida in the American Collegiate Hockey Association’s South region standings. Alabama has played four games against those two teams already this season, as well as ranked teams from the North at a tournament in Michigan.
“Any time you’re playing tough competition, you learn how to play against them,” head coach Mike Quenneville said. “We now know what it will take to compete against them.”
The Alabama hockey team won the Iron Cup in the fall, sweeping Auburn in a three-game series and bringing the trophy back to Tuscaloosa for the second straight season. Now the team has its sights set on another cup – the South Eastern Collegiate Hockey Conference’s Army Strong Championship Cup.
“We’re deeper as a team this year,” club president Ryan Barletta said. “We know we can make it to nationals.”
The SECHC is in its fourth full season as the governing body of 10 Southeastern Conference (NCAA) schools that support club hockey teams. An SECHC championship is something that is still missing from the Frozen Tide's list of accomplishments. Rivals Tennessee and Arkansas have claimed the first three championships.
The Frozen Tide (6-0-0 SECHC) is currently tied with Arkansas (6-1-0) in the SECHC West Standings with 12 points. The teams will likely settle the West division crown when they meet during the last weekend of the regular season for a pair of games in Arkansas.
“You definitely have to be on top of your game no matter who you’re playing during SEC games,” captain Christian Edge said.
Until then, Alabama hockey has a lot on its plate as the team gears up for a conference championship run as well as a potential National Tournament run.
After a pair of games this weekend against rival Tennessee, a traditional powerhouse in the South, the Frozen Tide will host the SECHC Showcase in Pelham, Ala., playing a slate of challenging games that the team hopes will get them ready for the conference tournament and postseason play.
“Now it’s the home stretch of the regular season,” Barletta said. “It’s time to play our best hockey.”
The Frozen Tide will have a rematch with No. 2 Central Florida at the SECHC Showcase after losing to the Golden Knights 7-2 in November.
“I’m looking forward to playing UCF again,” Edge said. “It’s going to be a big game towards the standings.”
Alabama will also play South Carolina and Georgia, a pair of teams that have already secured a spot in the SECHC Tournament.
Quenneville said the freshmen on the team are adding a new dynamic this season by coming in and helping make the team better right away.
“The freshmen are contributing to the team tremendously,” Quenneville said. “Around half of our top-ten are freshmen.”
The Frozen Tide will drop the puck at the Pelham Civic Complex in Pelham, Ala. against the Tennessee Volunteers Jan. 20-21.
“These games are going to bring the Tennessee-Alabama rivalry,” Quenneville said. “The team is looking forward to that.”