By Rebecca Dobrinski, SECHC Correspondent
The Frozen Commodores of Vanderbilt University were the second South Eastern Collegiate Hockey Conference (SECHC) team to hit the ice this fall. They were also the second SECHC team to open against the University of Memphis Tigers. This weekend the Ice ‘Dores swept the Tigers to start the season 2-0. (A 7-1 win on Friday and a 10-2 win on Saturday.)
The Ice ‘Dores will start their SECHC season next weekend against the University of South Carolina Gamecocks. For their first road games, the team will travel to the ICEPlex in Irmo, South Carolina. In addition to Memphis, Vanderbilt’s non-SECHC schedule includes Georgia State and Georgia Tech, Louisville, and Tulane.
Later in the season, Vandy will head south to Birmingham, Alabama, for the SECHC Pelham Showcase in January and Columbus, Georgia, for the SECHC Tournament in February. The Frozen Commodores will wrap up the season with the I-40 Face-Off against in-state rivals the University of Tennessee Ice Vols – this annual rivalry takes the ice at Bridgestone Arena (home of the Nashville Predators).
The SECHC is not just about competition and rivalries, though. The proceeds of this weekend’s games in Nashville were donated to Tuscaloosa Forward for tornado relief. For those who may not be aware: the city of Tuscaloosa, home to the University of Alabama, was devastated by tornados this past April. Tuscaloosa and the rest of the cities in this storm’s path are in the process of recovery.
The Ice ‘Dores are coached by Thomas Bernstein, an alum of both Cornell University and Vanderbilt. Bernstein played travel club and high school hockey in New Jersey and played at the club level at Cornell. He is backed up by three assistant coaches: Ben Gatlin (Vandy), Jonathan Holsten (Alabama), and Rusty Ware (LSU), who all have experience in club-level hockey in the SECHC. Bernstein is in his second season as Vandy’s head coach and each of his assistants joined the team this year.
The Vanderbilt hockey team was founded in 1991. Their home ice is Centennial Sportsplex, which may be somewhat familiar to THW readers as the practice ice for the Nashville Predators (Thanks to Jas!). According to the club’s web site, one of the unique things about the Vandy club is that the players are “largely responsible for managing the program.” The team is part of ACHA Division III. The Ice ‘Dores finished the 2010-11 season with a 14-3-1 record.