By Ryan Phillips
Alabama Frozen Tide hockey fans got their rivalry fix over the weekend with a three game sweep of the Auburn
Tigers to clinch the Iron Cup at the Pelham Civic Complex.
Each game proved a high scoring affair for the Frozen Tide (13-8-0-1), who outscored the Tigers 25-2 during the
three game weekend stint. With an all time record of 0-8 against the Frozen Tide, the Tigers faired no better than past
meetings on the ice.
Entering the series following an 8-2 victory over Tennessee, Frozen Tide Coach Mike Quenneville had already made
a point to emphasis the importance of this rivalry to players and fans. From the beginning of the season, Auburn was
factored into the grand scheme of things.
“Playing our arch rival Auburn in the Iron Cup weekend says it all,” he said.
“Months ago at the start of the season, we
said our goals were simple:
1) to beat Auburn; 2) to win the South East Collegiate Hockey Conference (SECHC); 3)
earn a slot in the regionals and by winning the regionals, go to the nationals in March—Nothing has changed.”
Despite the string of Auburn losses to the Frozen Tide, the rivalry remains strong and competition is at a fever pitch
between the two programs. According to Coach Quenneville, it is the attitude that makes the rivalry exciting.
“It is such a big rivalry and something that we always look forward to playing,” he said. “For games of this nature, the
history, the scores or the streaks don’t matter too much because Auburn will come to Pelham to win. These games
are always challenging and competitive. We hope our fans will turn out in big numbers to support us. It is a very
exciting time for Alabama hockey.”
After scoring in the first two minutes of Friday’s contest, the Frozen Tide leapt out to an eventual 9-1 lead heading
into the finish. The opening game of the series then set the tone for a weekend that Auburn would just as soon forget.
Auburn came out with a fire in their belly for game two on Saturday, but had trouble getting past Frozen Tide goalie
Tommy Condon, who played inspired defense over the course of the series, holding Auburn to only two goals over the
weekend. Following the 3-0 shutout, Condon was awarded Player of The Game honors for his performance.
Despite quality showings in the first two games, the Frozen Tide did not underestimate their opponent going in to the
third meeting.
By Sunday’s contest, Auburn limped into the rink to suffer a 13-1 thrashing at the hands leading scorer Bryan Puffer
and the Frozen Tide to close out the series. As the season draws to an end, the remainder of the schedule will dictate
rankings and validate playoff hopes, according to Quenneville.
“The best part of playing Auburn and our remaining schedule is that we control our own destiny in terms of getting to
regionals and even an automatic bid to nationals,” he said.
“There is no way we can look past Auburn, and playing well
and winning is critical for our team at this point. Getting to regionals is a must. If we are able to be ranked first or second,
then we would have an automatic bid to nationals.”
According to a press release from Alabama Hockey, the rivalry is deep rooted but went through a transition into the
present day.
“Alabama and Auburn started playing each other in hockey in 2010, a few years after the Alabama hockey program
started in 2005-06, but playing rival Auburn did not happen until 2010-11 when Auburn restarted its club hockey
program after a 47-year hiatus,” the release said.
David Noble, assistant coach and general manager of the Alabama Hockey team, reflected on the history of the rivalry and
the transformation it has undergone as it gained popularity in a state know for football.
“We had been playing hockey and building our program for a few years, but when Auburn came into our league and
we started playing, it honestly was one of the key points in Bama hockey history,” he said. “Alabama playing Auburn
and the Iron Cup rivalry created so much attention in terms of media and fan interest. We likened the hockey match
up to the Stanley Cup of college hockey in our area.
It really was a key part of what we have been able to build with
Alabama hockey.
Earlier in our rivalry, a lot of the Alabama and Auburn players were from Alabama, knew each other
and even played on the same youth teams together.
But in more recent years, the rosters have branched out.
It is
another indication of how much our hockey programs have grown.”
Alabama Hockey will round out it’s 2013-2014 with a Jan. 24 matchup against Ole Miss, Jan. 25 against Georgia and

a two game series against Central Florida from Jan. 31- Feb.

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