By: Reed Gossard
The UAB Blazers will be entering their third season as a program, playing D-III ACHA ice hockey across the Southeast. In the three years since the program started playing a full schedule, the Blazers have turned into one of the more formidable teams in the Southeast, posting a 20-6-2 record last year. The team hopes to do even better this year, with a challenging schedule that should test the mettle of and bring out the best in the Blazers.
Here are a few of the matchups to be excited for in the upcoming 2018-2019 season:
September 7-8: Tennessee Volunteers @ UAB / October 12-13 UAB @ Tennessee
Opponent Record Last Year: 5-10
The Volunteers lay claim to the “oldest and most established hockey program in the southeastern United States” .(per https://utk.campuslabs.com/engage/organization/icevols).
Tennessee hails from the SEC and is quickly turning into one of the Blazers’ more arduous rivals. Last year, UAB travelled to Knoxville and were defeated 3-2 and 5-4 in two games, both of which went into overtime.
With a home and away series against the Volunteers this season, including the Blazers’ first game on home opening weekend and a shot at redemption, the UAB/Tennessee series promises to be fraught with tension and ripe with exhilarating moments on the ice.
September 14: UAB @ Georgia Tech Yellowjackets
Opponent Record Last Year: 17-5-1-1
The Yellowjackets were one of the ACC’s strongest teams, posting a 17-5-1-1 record after a dismal four win season the previous year, while defeating teams like Florida State, Clemson, and Middle Tennessee State. They made the ACHA D-III National Tournament for the first time in more than ten years, finishing the season on a ten game tear where they went 9-1.
The Blazers lost 6-4 last year in a close contest. Playing in Georgia Tech’s home opener and first game this year, UAB heads to Atlanta with redemption on their minds against a tough, seasoned opponent that went 6-2 at home last season.
September 21: UAB @ Auburn Tigers / February 15-16 Auburn @ UAB
Opponent Record Last Year: 8-9
Auburn has consistently been a thorn in the side of the Blazers, going an even 2-2 in the teams’ four game series last year. The series provided UAB with one of its most memorable moments from last season, when Cam Dickinson was tripped on a breakaway but somehow managed to score and then, with three minutes to go, Jakob Hornsby netted the game-winner as the Blazers topped the Tigers 3-2.
When the Blazers and Tigers engage on the ice, it is fair to assume that the next sixty minutes of hockey will be fast, physical, and electrifying.
October 5: UAB @ Georgia Bulldogs
Opponent Record Last Year: 17-5-1
The Georgia Bulldogs finished second in the final ACHA D-III rankings for the South region, dominating their opponents in the SEC, including a 12-0 thrashing of Auburn.
They are one of the toughest opponents the Blazers will face all season, but if the Blazers rise to the occasion like they have done in the past, this game should be incredibly fun to watch.
October 26-27: UAB @ UAH Chargers / February 22-23 UAH @ UAB
Opponent Record Last Year: N/A
While the Chargers have a storied NCAA program, they recently formed a club team that will play its inaugural game against the Blazers on the last Saturday in October.
Geographically, this could shape up to be quite the rivalry as Birmingham and Huntsville are separated by only 102 miles of I-65 and both are young programs hungry to prove themselves.
November 30-December 31: Mississippi State Bulldogs @ UAB
Opponent Record Last Year: 4-12-0-1
The Bulldogs were swept last year in six games by the Blazers; however, they always play with grit and are a relentless opponent.
Mississippi State served as the Blazers’ inaugural game on April 2, 2015. The Blazers usually bring a packed house for their oldest rival, and a hard hitting game typically ensues for a fun night of hockey.
The Blazers hope to continue their momentum from last season forward into this season. While they face many tough and experienced teams, the young program is definitely looking forward to proving itself in a growing hockey landscape in the South.
Author’s note: Several of these team records can be found on ACHA’s website at http://achahockey.org/statistics/1682-ACHA-Mens?type=standings&level=conference&id=1152&sport=1&league_id=1800 ; however, a fair amount of individual investigation was conducted as well, which included research on various opponents’ websites. The UAB Blazers, while participating in the ACHA, do not as of yet participate in the postseason and therefore do not count for or against an opponent’s overall record on the ACHA site. Any questions or concerns can be directed towards the email found under the “Contact” tab found on this site.