The South Eastern Collegiate Hockey Conference (SECHC) has garnered some attention in the latest American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) Division Three south rankings. The last ranking, with games played through January 18, 2015, has three SECHC teams in the top ten. The Frozen Tide are in the second spot, while the South Carolina Gamecocks come in at number 6. Vanderbilt rounds out the SECHC teams in the top ten at number 9. Ole Miss is at number 11.
SECHC Commissioner Ken “Sarge” Day told SHSB, “The overall skill levels of our teams increase every season and we now have multiple SECHC teams in the hunt to qualify for the ACHA D3 regionals and nationals. “
On January 13th, Arkansas announced that the team is moving up to ACHA D1 and joining the WCHL beginning next season, becoming the first SECHC team to make the move. Although Arkansas will maintain a D3 team and member of the SECHC, Sarge said, “This move will change the landscape of our west division and I am proposing to our members that we go to a single division of 11-teams. If approved, we will assign a specific number of games each team must play and create our own internal coaches poll/rankings committee with the intent of releasing a SECHC coaches poll every two weeks throughout the season.”
The SECHC playoffs are just a few weeks away and the conference officials are putting the final touches on what should be another exciting tournament. Sarge told SHSB, “We are putting the final touches on what will be another exciting SECHC Playoffs. We purposely scheduled our playoffs for February 6-7-8, 2015 because that weekend’s results are also the final games that will count for the final ACHA D3 rankings. I think whoever finishes 1st, 2nd, 3rd and even 4th will have a major impact on the final rankings.”
Last year’s playoffs were a huge success and Sarge thinks this tournament will be much like last years. “I expect huge crowds once again, same as last year. I think the fans appreciate the improved skillsets of the players and the improvement of all our teams. None of this can be possible however without the dedicated players who truly are “student athletes;” and the highly experienced, dedicated coaches and volunteers we have throughout the SECHC Family. I feel just as strongly about our outstanding referees who do a great job for us. Things are looking up for the SECHC and for college hockey in the south. I am honored, thrilled and blessed to play a small role in this endeavor.” Sarge went on to say, “The city of Pelham and everyone associate with the Pelham Civic Center and Pelham Mayor Gary Waters have rolled out the red carpet and received us with open arms; we appreciate all of them so much.”
During the tournament, the SECHC will be hosting a meet and greet with prospective players and parents. This event is a huge recruiting tool for teams in the SECHC. Sarge tells SHSB, “Our main focus for our student athletes is obtaining a quality education while playing the sport they love at an exciting SEC school.”
The SECHC will be hosting a tournament for the top high school age players throughout the Southeast during the SECHC playoffs. Seventy of the top players in the Southeast will combine to make four teams for the tournament. Sarge explains, “We have partnered with Russ Beatse with the Southern Youth Travel Hockey League (SYTHL) and Paul Petrarca with the Southern Amateur Hockey Association (SAHA) to form 4-teams of highly skilled high school age players who will play a total of seven games simultaneously during our playoffs.”
If you’re looking for a great weekend of hockey, I would recommend attending the SECHC playoffs. There will be tons of hockey, but the atmosphere is truly unbelievable! For more information on the playoffs, check out the Pelham Civic Center and the Pelham Youth Hockey League websites.