Kennesaw State missed 100% of the shots they didn’t take against the Frozen Tide 

Savannah Prefontaine, Contributing Writer

The University of Alabama’s unranked Division II Collegiate Hockey Federation team faced off against the unranked Kennesaw State Owls in a series this past weekend, resulting in Alabama winning 4-0 on Friday and 8-0 on Saturday. 

Game 1 

There were new and returning faces on the Alabama’s roster this past weekend, and the way they played during both games seemed like they had been playing together for years.  

“I was really impressed to see the new guys come in and be right there immediately,” alternate captain Jack Oldham said. “Last season, we struggled pretty hard the first few games, but it looks like these new guys are coming in perfectly, and it’s awesome to see.” 

With an assist from Sebastien Henault, freshman forward Ben Breen scored his first goal playing for Alabama’s DII team during the second period of Friday’s game, putting Alabama on the scoreboard, up by one, for the first time this 2022-2023 season.   

“This game was one of the only games my parents could be here for, it was definitely a really special experience,” Breen said. “The older guys were really happy for me on the bench and giving me pats on the back.” 

“When you see a rookie score a goal like that, it definitely encourages the team to play better,” senior forward Matt Dumond said. 

Junior forward Brendan Vatz, who played for the University of Alabama-Huntsville last year, scored his first goal playing for Alabama’s DII team as well. 

“It was a great win by Sebastien Henault in the face-off,” Vatz said. “Everyone just crashed into the net, and I was lucky enough to be right next to it and score that goal.” 

“We’ve got the guys out there, in the right spots, in the right time,” senior Matt England said. “It really helps us maintain possession of the puck and keep our speed up to where they aren’t able to.” 

These first two games against Kennesaw State allowed head coach Greg Dreveny and assistant coaches Brian Dahle and Rick Jacobs to put together lines that will get them where they need to be to claim their spot in nationals. After a game, most hockey coaches look at how well each line played together and which pairs worked well on the ice together, and find new lines to flow and work together to handle a competitive team with the same or higher skill level. 

“There’s going to be an adjustment period, especially dealing with new guys and old guys, as in some guys have chemistry, and some guys are still figuring it out,” Dreveny said. “It’s essential to give everyone an opportunity for us to take a look at guys that you haven’t seen on the ice in a game before.” 

With it being their first series this season and only having a few practices beforehand, it was remarkable how well the defensemen played in a line with the forwards to get shots on Kennesaw State’s net and score goals while also keeping Kennesaw State away from Alabama’s net, even when they had breakaways or power plays. 

“Through all four lines in each game, you never really know who’s going to step up and show out that night,” Dreveny said. “Everyone on this team has that capability.”  

Alabama’s goalies Luc Haggit, Tyler Terranova and Tommy Martin put the work in this past weekend and ended Friday and Saturday’s games with shutouts. All three goalies defended their position in the net, one of the game’s most critical positions.  

It was the first time Haggit, a freshman, had been in the net for Alabama’s DII team on Friday night. Haggit was able to get through all three periods allowing no goals to be scored by Kennesaw State, ending in a shutout by Alabama.   

“He stepped into the first game and made big saves,” Dreveny said. “Even when the other team doesn’t have many shots on goal, it sometimes makes it even harder to make the saves you have to give your team the opportunity to win.” 

Game 2 

During the second game against Kennesaw State on Saturday evening, Martin was able to get through the first period allowing no goals to get past him. Halfway through the second period, Alabama decided to pull Martin and put Terranova in the net. Terranova opened his second season playing for Alabama with a shutout Saturday night. 

Alabama’s defensemen showed out both nights and allowed few shots on goal by Kennesaw State. In hockey, a goalie’s connection with every player on the ice is critical in winning a game. The defensemen are there to keep the opposing team out of their defensive zone, and if they fail, then it’s up to the goaltender to stop any shots made on goal from passing the goal line.  

If one defenseman is in the penalty box, it’s up to the other defenseman and the three forwards on the line to keep that goalie from having to stop any pucks.  

“You have to get a brother bond with everyone on the team,” Terranova said. “We’re all fighting through the same battles every game, so if we’re not connected chemistry-wise, we won’t be successful throughout the season.” 

Alabama’s forwards showed the Kennesaw States goalie no mercy throughout the game on Saturday with goals by Oldham, Max Savaloja, and Xavier Tanner, and a hat trick by Dumond. 

“The first couple of games you don’t really know what to expect,” Dumond said. “The work you put in during the off-season will translate into games.”  

“This team really reaffirmed the fact that we are here to stay,” England said. “We got fifth at nationals last year, and after watching the team and how much we’ve improved over the off-season is just going to make that number one spot even more attainable.” 

What’s Next? 

Alabama’s DII team will face off against the 2021-2022 CHF national champions, The University of Tampa, next Friday, Sept. 23, at The Pelham Civic Complex. The puck will drop at 8 p.m. CT. 

Streaming is available and provided by Black Dog Hockey for each home and away game. If you cannot attend a game this season, clicking this link will take you to the Alabama live broadcast schedule and give you the opportunity to subscribe to stream games.

Questions or comments? Email Austin Hannon (Sports Editor) at [email protected]