From February 9th-11th, a number of student-athletes across the south will descend upon the Ford Ice Center for the SEC men’s club hockey tournament.
For the vast majority of high school hockey players, playing in Juniors is not an option. Even for those talented enough to play in Juniors, often the risk versus reward of maybe being able to play for a division 3 NCAA team simply is not worth it. Playing club hockey is the traditional “high school to college” route that does not exist for those looking to play professionally. This tournament is a great chance to see students both playing excellent hockey who refuse to sacrifice their own academic ambitions. In case you know any prep players who may be interested in playing club hockey, there are links to the tournament participants’ websites within this article.
Last season, Georgia repeated as SEC champions, defeating Ole Miss in the final. The game was about as one-sided as a 9-2 scoreline could tell. The Bulldogs have picked up right where they left off, compiling the conference’s best record and entering this season’s tournament as the #1 seed and a 15-3-1 record. Head Coach Rick Emmett leads a team oozing with talent. Lead by Carter Penzien (19gp-28g-49a-77p), a Nashville native, Georgia’s offense has decimated opponent after opponent.
The first round last year featured a classic gold versus orange match-up won 11-0 by Vanderbilt. The Commodores would end up claiming third while the Volunteers would not win a game. This season, the Volunteers are not back in the tournament, being replaced by a very talented Kentucky team.
Meanwhile, Vanderbilt has struggled to replace a large crop of seniors from last year and enter the tournament as the #7 seed. A change behind the bench also occurred for the Commodores in the off-season, as Ricky Hernandez replaced Thomas Bernstein as head coach. The team looks to shrug off two recent home losses to Kentucky where core player Mark Matthews was held scoreless. Staying out of the box will be key for Vanderbilt, who have taken more than their fair share of penalties this season.
Sights and Sounds:
All games will be played at the Ford Ice Center. It costs $12 for an adult day pass, while a children’s day pass costs $10. Alternatively, you can purchase a pass for the entire weekend for $30.
2/9/18 - 2:00 PM (North Rink) - #6 South Carolina vs # 3 Kentucky
2/9/18 - 4:45 PM (North Rink) - #5 Ole Miss vs #4 Florida
2/9/18 - 5:15 PM (South Rink) - #8 Auburn vs #1 Georgia
2/9/18 - 8:00 PM (South Rink) - #7 Vanderbilt vs #2 Arkansas
2/10/18 - 12:00 PM (South Rink) - 7th Place Game
2/10/18 - 3:00 PM (North Rink) - 5th Place Game
2/10/18 - 5:00 PM (South Rink) - Semi Final
2/10/18 - 8:00 PM (South Rink) - Semi Final
2/11/18 - 11:00 AM (South Rink) - 3rd Place Game
2/11/18 - 2:30 PM (South Rink) - Championship Game