February 2005
Tennessee and Georgia Tech Set For Historic 50th Face-Off
Brandon Hudson

The two oldest and most established hockey programs in the southern United States, the Tennessee Volunteers and Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, will meet the final week of January for their historic 50th meeting. The UT/GT series is the longest running rivalry in southern hockey at any level. The two teams first played in January of 1976. Then, in 1979 both teams became founding members of the Southern Collegiate Hockey Association along with Alabama- Huntsville, Georgia State, Emory, and Vanderbilt. Since then, the two teams have played each year. Complete statistics and records for the series are unavailable, but for recorded games, Tennessee holds a 16-13 edge in the 48 games played to date.

The Tennessee program began in 1966, playing men’s league teams in Knoxville until they opened intercollegiate play in November of 1967. The Ice Vols were forced to travel north and play teams such as Miami-Ohio, Purdue, Rutgers, and Illinois until the second southern hockey team, Georgia Tech, began in 1973. Georgia Tech also played in Atlanta area men’s leagues for several seasons before they began intercollegiate play in 1975.

Since the series began, both teams have enjoyed successful histories. Georgia Tech claimed conference championships in 1989, 1997, and 2000 and Tennessee took the title in 1983, 1993, 1994, 1996, and 2002. The Yellow Jackets can also boast two runner-up finishes in the ACHA National Tournament. Since the founding of ACHA’s Division-III in 1998, at least one of the two teams had made the National Tournament every year. In addition, either the Yellow Jackets or Volunteers have finished in the top 10 every year.

The series has been a close and exciting one over the years. Both teams have enjoyed long win streaks with Tennessee dominating the win column early, notching ten straight from 1979 to 1984. Georgia Tech had the most recent edge, winning nine straight since 1997 before Tennessee broke through with a win in 2003. Four times the two teams have met in the postseason with Tennessee having the 3-0 edge in the SCHA Tournament; and Georgia Tech taking the school’s only National Tournament meeting in 2002.

This year, both Tennessee and Georgia Tech are in the middle of rebuilding projects. Tennessee, guided by a first-year coach, is coming off of a 6-19 season; and Georgia Tech lost almost half of last season’s opening day roster to graduation. Tech will also be without the services of legendary coach Greg Stathis, who is recuperating from heart surgery. Assistant coaches Kenny Day and Brian Sparrow will instead be on the bench for the Jackets. The two teams face off in Atlanta on Friday, January 28th at 9:00pm and Saturday January 29th at 6:00pm. Both games are at the Marietta Ice Center.

 





 
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