With strong play and loads of luck, the Vanderbilt Commodores Ice Hockey Club qualified for regionals for the first time in its 20-year history. The team will have to wait to actually play its first regional tournament game, however, because the club turned the invitation down 36 hours later for a variety of reasons.
To sum up the situation, including the various inputs that factored in to the final decision not to make the trip to Columbia, South Carolina, here is the response Coach Bernstein provided to HockeyYall.com’s Jim Davis who was anxious to learn about the details behind the update.
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HockeyYall.com’s Jim Davis inquiring about the decision
I just find out that Vandy is not going to the regional. Why not? When was this decision made? How are the boys dealing with this? Would this have been your the club’s first regional appearance? Is the I-40 Classic still on?
Regarding our status with regionals, we voluntary opted to turn down the invitation for several reasons, including…
Resources. As you know, we have been building the program up from the ground up over the past two years. Part of that effort has included booking a more ambitious schedule and, subsequently, finding ways to fund those additional commitments. Because we have played 6 additional games this season, scheduled charter buses for multiple road trips, and invested in the foundations of a merchandising operation, we simply don’t have enough money available to cover what would likely be a $4,000 (or more) expenditure for the club with bus, food, and accommodations.
Player Schedules. Several players (nearly half the team) had booked non-hockey travel plans for this upcoming weekend prior to receiving the news about regionals last Friday. Most of the plans were non-refundable reservations and the prevailing sentiment was that they’d prefer to follow through with their existing schedules.
School Schedules. We made a commitment to the boys’ professors that the Pelham Showcase weekend would be the last time we’d ask to have them be excused from class this semester. Recognizing that we’d have to leave for South Carolina at 4am CT on Friday to make the 4:30pm ET game and in turn miss an entire day of classes, the boys and I felt it was inappropriate to once again go back to the professors at this late juncture to ask for additional excused absences.
All that said, it’s important to our team that you and your readers know that the boys and I were thrilled and humbled to finish the season in the top 10 in our region. Even with the circumstances surrounding the result (i.e., the unfortunate end to Arkansas’s season), the accomplishment remains a huge point of pride for everyone, especially seniors Brenden Oliver, Thomas Trepanier, Jack McCallum, and Matt Kaminsky who over their four years have taken the club from the depths of SECHC probation to securing the program’s first ever invitation to regionals. It provides us with huge momentum heading into next season as the boys will now have the goal of making regionals on their radars from the very first kickoff meeting in August. It’s been a terrific year in so many respects, and even though we will not be making the trip to Columbia to actually play in the game we remain extremely excited about the end result of this season.
Thanks for checking in and looking forward to keeping you updated on the remainder of our schedule, notably the SECHC tournament where we’ll be facing off against Auburn on Friday, 2/24, and the second annual I-40 Face-Off versus UT which will be played at Bridgestone Arena on Saturday, 3/31, at 1pm before the Nashville Predators game versus the Chicago Blackhawks.