The Vanderbilt Commodores Ice Hockey Club (9-12 overall, 3-5 in the SEC) will take the ice this evening for the last official weekend of the 2012/13 season. The stage, the Southeastern Collegiate Hockey Conference Tournament, will feature a tough battle for Vandy in the opening round as they face SEC power Arkansas (24-9-1 overall, 7-1 in the SEC) at 9:50pm CT at the IceComplex in Huntsville, Alabama.
The match-up between the two teams could not be more contrasting in terms of cultures, records, grades, mascots, history, dues, hometowns, favorite colors … the list goes on. To gain some perspective on the cavernous divide, one need look no further than last season and the two interactions the clubs had with one another, one on-ice and one off.
In a December 2011 showdown in Fayetteville, the last time Vandy and Arkansas played, the Commodores faced the Ice Hogs in a road battle that resulted in what doctors might call, in technical terms, an annihilation. Arkansas systematically peppered the net en route to an impressive 13-0 drubbing, a loss that now-junior Jack Delehey labeled the worst he had experienced in his life. “The worst part was that we drove 9 hours to the middle of nowhere for that,” Delehey recalls. “We had a bus with WiFi though, so it wasn’t a total disaster.”
That experience was then followed by a second event that took place far away from any arena or scoreboard. It turned out that five of the Arkansas players were ineligible for much of the 2011/12 campaign due to issues with their class credits and transcripts, including one player who submitted a fake registrar’s report to the league. At the time the number one team in the southeast and a lock for nationals, Arkansas subsequently had to forfeit the remainder of the schedule which opened up a spot for Vanderbilt in the regional tournament and also paved the way for the Commodores to make a run at the SEC tournament. Vanderbilt would finish third in the event. It was good fortune for Vanderbilt who, ironically, often leads the SECHC in All-Academic honors. (On that note, FYI for VU hockey parents â€“ Vanderbilt once again logged terrific grades this year with more than 70% of the club maintaining a 3.2 or better cumulative GPA. < INSERT_SLOW_CLAP >)
With Arkansas eligible and back in the mix for this year’s tournament, it will be a tall order for the ‘Dores to make another run at equaling or topping last year’s finish. In order to do so, Vanderbilt will have to beat not only the Ice Hogs but also Ole Miss and Alabama. All three teams made the regional tournament with the latter two advancing to next month’s national tournament.
For more information about the tournament’s game times and information, be sure to visit SECHC.com or check out information about the event dates and times. The club would love to see some black and gold in the stands throughout the weekend so be sure to drop in, enjoy some hockey, and introduce yourselves if you’re in the area. Anchor down!