The Tennessee IceVols and Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, both of which experienced disappointing outcomes to their 2005-06 ACHA campaigns, have scheduled three games against each other next season and are looking to return to the American Collegiate Hockey Association's national tournament
Last season, UT was bumped into the North Region of the ACHA a week after filling its schedule with traditional South Region rivals. The lack of quality games within their new region influenced the final ACHA rankings,leaving the Ice Vols one spot short of qualifying for the Division III national tourney.
To improve their strength of schedule, the IceVols have added defending Division III champion Wright State, perennial powerhouses Georgia, Kennesaw State and Middle Tennessee State, Division II opponents Kentucky and Bridgewater State (Mass.), and Southern Indiana, a top 10 club last season.
Georgia Tech’s squad voted to withdraw from the ACHA after the hardship appeal by one of its players was overruled in January. The drastic move allowed the player, a freshman, to skate during his second semester, but rendered the Yellow Jackets ineligible for both the regional and national Division III tournaments.
Both UT and GT will begin next season with high expectations that include a spot among the region’s top four teams.
The IceVols, who could wind up back in the South to replace Division II-bound Florida Gulf Coast, expect more than 40 veterans and prospects in their tryout camp as they seek to improve on last season’s 18-6 won-lost record in ACHA play.
“We are looking to build on a tremendous first season for coach Steve Durrigan,” says club general manager Brandon Hudson, noting that Durrigan’s 18 wins were a record for a first-year UT ice hockey coach.
“We’ve added two former NHL players to the coaching staff this season, as former Wisconsin standout and Toronto Maple Leaf goalie Dean Anderson and former Detroit Red Wing forward Marc Rodgers joined the Big Orange staff.”
Georgia Tech will welcome back eight improving sophomores, fifth-year graduate student Mike Zaucha and seniors Nick Rice in goal, forward Kyle Stage and defenseman Christian Gattung.
The Yellow Jackets and IceVols will square off twice in Atlanta over the Veterans Day weekend November in honor of the U.S. armed forces. The proceeds will be donated to the Lt. Tyler Brown Scholarship Fund. Lt. Brown was a former Georgia Tech class president who was killed in action in Iraq.
UT will host Tech in Knoxville for the IceVols’ last game of the regular season, Feb. 24. The graduating seniors on both teams will be honored that night.