Even though there were a handful of games last week, most consider this week as opening weekend for ACHA D3 hockey. Several SECHC games are scheduled for this weekend, but the biggest when it comes to playoff implications is South Carolina at Vanderbilt. This series sets the stage early in the season for the SECHC East. Four points are on the line in the standings.
The Gamecocks travel to Nashville to take on the Commodores on Friday night and Sunday morning. Nestled between these games is a matchup on the gridiron between the same two schools. While it appears that USC will dominate Vandy on the football field, the games on the ice should be much closer.
South Carolina’s potent offense will be a tough task for Vanderbilt. Although they have a new coach, the Gamecocks are coming off of a record breaking, 21 win season. They scored 154 goals in 2013-14, with 18 of them coming against the Dores. USC returns their leading scorer from last season, junior Eric Patterson. The forward scored 22 goals for South Carolina last season and has already notched a hat trick this season.The Gamecocks defense, with an average size of 6’1″, 190 pounds, uses their size and strenth to play a tough, physical game.
Vanderbilt is coming off of a 9-14-1, 2013-14 season with high expectations. The Dores are returning their top top three scorers, senior Daniel Hogue, junior Jack Gibbons, and Sophomore John Longman. Vandy is welcoming sophomore Ryan Kellenberger, a 6’3″ net minder who transferred from Tufts University, a NCAA D3 school. Kellenberger posted a .833 save percentage and a 4.15 goals against average (GAA) in 14 games with the Jumbos.
Skate fast: Vandy must get out to a fast start against the high-powered offense of USC and not let up. They need to play three complete periods.
Skate responsibility: The Dores had 313 penalty minutes last season, with 142 of those coming in the first seven games. Vandy went 1-6-0. The next seven games, the team went 4-2-1 and only had 58 PIMS (about 4 penalties per game).
Offense: The Gamecocks need to put their offense into action early and often.
Powerplay: USC already has three powerplay goals this season. If they can get Vanderbilt in Sin Bin, they can take advantage of the 5 on 4 and put pucks in the net.
By early afternoon on Sunday, both teams will have two points in the SECHC standings after splitting the series.
Auburn travels to Springfield, AR for a weekend series with the Razorbacks. Puck drops at 7:30 for both Friday and Saturday night games at The Jones Center.
Ole Miss hits the road to take on Kennesaw State for games on Friday and Saturday night. Puck drops at 10:00 pm ET each night.
The Tennessee Ice Vols face Eastern Kentucky in a home-and-home series. UT travels to Lexington, KY to take on the Colonials at 11:55 pm ET on Friday. Saturday night, the Ice Vols host EKU at 9:30 pm ET at Cool Sports, Home of the Icearium.
Georgia welcomes Florida to The Classic Center for a Sunday matinee. Puck drops at 1:30 ET.