Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Hockey comes back from 2-month break to back-to-back losses

CW/ Elijah McWhorter

After a two-month wait, Alabama’s club hockey team returned to the ice at Pelham Civic Center, marking the beginning of the second half of the season under the guidance of a new coach and a refreshed attitude. The team launched a two-game series against Indiana University of Pennsylvania on Friday night. 

The team struggled against IUP, scoring only 4 points. At the same time, the Crimson Hawks dominated with a total of 13 points — 2-6 on Friday and 2-7 on Saturday.  

Despite being known in the American Collegiate Hockey Association as one of the rougher teams, on Friday night Alabama made it through the first period with only two penalties, on defenseman Ralph Mundy for hooking and goalie Joe Hughes, whose time was done in the box by forward Chris Moehlenpah. 

New head coach Mike Fairbanks, who previously coached in the USA Hockey National Team Development Program, said he values accountability and discipline, praising the team’s drive during challenges. Despite the recent snow and ice storm causing the team to miss practices, he looks to enhance discipline, understand the opponent and promote a positive mindset.  

Addressing verbal and physical altercations the team usually finds itself in, Fairbanks urges the team to focus on the game and avoid unnecessary conflicts. 

“I don’t know their previous coach, but I believe in being respectful and just playing your game,” Fairbanks said. 

Despite the team making what seemed to be a 180-degree attitude adjustment as IUP took more and more goals, the team became increasingly restless, and the crowd began to see more of the team they’d watched in the fall. The Frozen Tide was involved in multiple team fights and took multiple penalties in the second and third periods as a result.  

“I think you’ll see that [focus] in our game tomorrow and less of that [fighting],” Fairbanks said following the first game. “Because if we get guys that get caught up in that, they probably won’t see the ice as much, but we don’t want to do that.” 

Along with taking penalties, the team’s defense couldn’t keep up with the shots IUP was taking. Despite blocking all its shots at the beginning of the game, Hughes and the team’s other defensemen couldn’t keep IUP away from the net, and by the middle of the second period were on a 3-0 scoring run with nothing to retaliate.  

As the game went on, the hopes of winning only got slimmer as the 3-point scoring run became a 6-point scoring run. Although the Frozen Tide was able to make it to the Crimson Hawks’ goal multiple times, the team found it impossible to get the puck past IUP’s goalie Jared Stahel. 

As the game’s seconds ticked to 50 seconds, a 6-0 loss for Alabama seemed inevitable until two goals from forwards Max Eckstein at 52 seconds and Michael Kramer at 5.7 seconds gave Alabama what it needed to avoid the shutout.  

The Saturday game was different for the Frozen Tide. Instead of waiting until the last seconds to score, Alabama was able to stay neck and neck with IUP until the second period.  IUP went on a two-goal scoring run, and forward Jenson Lopez scored one more time, wrapping up scoring for the Frozen Tide.  

Hughes then let in four more goals, leaving the score 2-7 despite a promising first period. 

Despite the tough loss, forward Greg Simmons suggested the team would do better once it got back into the swing of things. 

“I think it’s going to take a little bit to get our feet under us,” Simmons said. “It was a tough game, a couple of bad bounces. I think the game could have changed if we had some go our way, but I think we just have to keep working hard, showing up to the rink, having good practices, having good games, sticking together and we’ll be fine.” 

The team will return to Pelham Civic Center on Feb. 2 and 3 to take on Oklahoma. 

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