The University of Florida Ice Gators kicked off their season this past weekend, taking on their South Eastern Collegiate Hockey Conference (SECHC) rivals, the Ice Dawgs of Mississippi State. Hosted on their home ice in Jacksonville, Florida, the Gators routed the Ice Dawgs 11-3 and 19-4. This weekend they head down to Orlando to meet the Clemson Tigers.
After Clemson, the Ice Gators will “split the [travel] difference” with Vandy’s Ice ‘Dores for a weekend game in Atlanta, where they will also take on Georgia State. Besides the rest of their Conference games, Florida will make the circuit in their home state against Florida State, South Florida, North Florida, and Florida Atlantic. They round out the season with January’s SECHC Showcase near Birmingham, Alabama, and the Savannah Hockey Classic, then later at the ACHA regionals in March.
The Ice Gators have a new coaching staff this season. Head Coach Tracy Jacobson hails from North Dakota. Jacobson has over 30 years experience playing and coaching. His focus will be on the defense. Taking the reins of the offense is Assistant Coach and Quebec native Michael Marcinkiewicz, a 40 year hockey playing and coaching veteran.
According to the club’s web site, the University of Florida hockey team was founded in 1996 as part of College Hockey South (CHS). They are now in ACHA Division III, the SECHC East. They practice and play at the Jacksonville Ice & Sportsplex, just over an hour away from Gainesville. The Ice Gators finished the 2010-11 season 15-11-0.
In addition to the usual SEC and in-state rivalries, the Gators take on University of Georgia Bulldogs both on the ice and the gridiron in mid-October. This year the annual game will be Halloween weekend – hockey in Jacksonville and football in the Swamp back in Gainesville.
Originally from Chicago, I’m doing time in the now professional hockey-less Birmingham, Alabama (but we have club hockey!). Between working, reading, and writing, hockey is that little distraction that keeps me sane. At least once a month, and especially when the Blackhawks are in town, I can be found in Bridgestone Arena cheering on the Predators (except, of course, when the Blackhawks are in town).