Alabama hockey adds another Division I team


Courtesy of Sarah Laufer, Alabama Hockey

On Monday, June 12, another Alabama club hockey team, the AAU team, was approved to play at the Division I level.

Abby McCreary, Sports Editor

On Monday, June 12, another Alabama club hockey team was approved to play at the Division I level.  

College Hockey South of Amateur Athletic Union College Hockey created a D1 Division that will house Alabama’s Amateur Athletic Union team as well as Auburn, Georgia, South Carolina and the University of Tampa. 

Jake Oldham, the president of Alabama’s AAU team and a junior majoring in business, said moving up to the next level will be great for his team. 

“It gets the word out there that The University of Alabama does have a hockey program,” Oldham said. “We’re thriving with three different teams that are playing at different levels. … I think it’s a massive opportunity for the program as a whole.” 

The AAU team is the second team to play at the Division I level for Alabama hockey. There is also a third team that plays at the Division III level. 

At surface level, the AAU team was invited to play at the Division I level because of how well they’ve been performing in the conference and national tournaments, but head coach Greg Dreveny, who also coaches for the Birmingham Bulls, said there are other factors. 

“It’s not just about your talent on the ice, it’s about your whole package,” Dreveny said. “The social media, how your team looks coming out of the rink, how they present themselves as they represent The University of Alabama during tournaments, and how they speak to officials and the whole nine yards. Those were all components of who got invited to this first-year D1 pilot.”  

Dreveny said an AAU director approached him with the opportunity after last season’s nationals, just as the team’s bus was about to leave.  

“I said we appreciate the invitation, but with anything in club hockey, the presidents essentially run the team,” Dreveny said. 

As president, Oldham decided to open up the decision to the rest of his officers as well as the other members. As a team, they decided moving up to the next level was the best option, for the program as well as each individual. 

“We’ve been progressing as a team these past two years,” Oldham said. “Our next goal is going to be to start coming in first in these tournaments we qualify for and are doing well in and start winning these championship games.” 

Although the team has been improving on the ice, having ice to play on is still an issue. All three teams currently share ice time at the Pelham Civic Complex, nearly an hourlong car ride away. 

Savannah Prefontaine, the director of public relations and intern affairs for the team and a junior majoring in public relations, said she hopes to solve that problem through the Build-A-Rink campaign. 

“We know that it’s going to take a while, but somebody had to get it started, and we’re happy to be the ones to do that,” Prefontaine said. 

Prefontaine said moving the team to this new division will help bring awareness to the campaign — which is becoming an official UA organization that can fundraise in the fall — as well as more sponsors, fan engagement and growth of the game.  

“Even though it’s a club team, club hockey is college hockey in the South, and this is only going to help grow the game more,” Prefontaine said. “Maybe in the future there will be NCAA teams down here.”