From being advertised at the Nashville Predators game on Tuesday to special guest appearances from Mr. Commodore, Vandy’s biggest fan Michael Sloan, and Vanderbilt alum and Yahoo! Puck Daddy editor Joshua Cooper, this weekend against in-state rival Tennessee deserved its hype.
In front of a packed barn on Friday Night, the rivalry aspect was felt right off puck drop with lots of physicality, scrum after scrum in front of the net, and lots of chatter among the two teams. The first draw of poison came from a slapper at the top of the right circle from John Longman to make the game 1-0. From that point forward, the Commodores didn’t look back as they took this game by the final score of 6-1.
Going into the second game, Vanderbilt came in with the opportunity to take home the SECHC East Title as all they needed to do was win the game and keep the Ice Vols from scoring 5 or less goals. A game that went back and forth on the goal department and racking up 60 penalty minutes between both teams had Vanderbilt getting itself ready for to claim the division with a 8-4 lead in the final minutes of the game. With 1:14 left to play in the 3rd period, Nick Honkala took a tripping penalty that left the Commodores two men down. In the most important penalty kill of the regular season, Ryan Kellenberger stood tall in net and the Commodores kept the Ice Vols from scoring to secure the SEC East by the final of 8-4.
Vanderbilt Head Coach Thomas Bernstein said that it was huge to win the SEC East with a bunch of good teams making up the division and it shows that the Commodores are one of the best teams in the South.
Though what developed from puck drop to the end of the first period with one of Tennessee’s players was the water cooler topic of the game. During the first game, number 91, Michael Roulier, of the Ice Vols was given a game disqualification for the second game after taking a roughing penalty in the middle of the third period. As warmups in the second game were underway, a player from the Ice Vols with the number 17 took the ice and Vandy players started noticing as the game went along.
After taking a slashing call late in the first period, Commodores Captain Greg Kirk asked the scorekeeper who number 17 was on the Ice Vols. In the first intermission, it became clear that the player for the Ice Vols wearing number 17 was Michael Roulier. Due to dressing a disqualified player from the previous game, the Ice Vols Hockey program is now under investigation from the South Eastern Collegiate Hockey Conference (SECHC).
“When we called them on it, they played dumb.” said Commodores head coach Thomas Bernstein, “If that’s how they want to run their program, that’s fine.”
The SECHC Tournament bracket hasn’t been announced, but the tournament will run from February 6th to February 8th down in Pelham, AL.