CHS Week 17 Preview
By: Danny Baum
Is there anything better than playoff hockey? Intensity, pride, and stakes are all raised, and each team shares a common goal. The College Hockey South Division 1 and Women’s playoffs take center stage this weekend from the Ford Ice Center in Clarksville, Tennessee.
Week 17 Game of the Week: Division 1 Semifinal - (No. 2) University of South Carolina vs (No. 3) University of Georgia
Our Game of the Week will be the rubber match between the two clubs after splitting the first two games of the season series. The most recent meeting was a thrilling 5-4 overtime win for South Carolina on Feb. 2.
South Carolina comes into the semifinal game having won 12 of their last 13 games. Georgia has had similar success, winning seven of its last nine games. Georgia won the first game of the season series back in September, 3-2.
Georgia and South Carolina will face off Friday, Feb. 9, at 7:00 p.m. CT for an opportunity to play in the Championship Game. The Championship Game will be played the next day at 4:30 p.m. CT.
College Hockey South will host the tournament at Ford Ice Center, 150 College Street, Clarksville, TN 37040. Tickets for the event can be purchased at the arena. Unable to attend the event in person? Watch all games from the weekend live on the College Hockey South YouTube channel.
Division 1 Semifinal - (No. 1) University of Tampa vs (No. 4) University of Alabama
The No. 1 ranked AAU College Hockey Team, Tampa Spartans, is on the other side of the bracket where they take on Alabama in the semifinals.
The Alabama Frozen Tide are playing with the proverbial house money in this game as heavy underdogs. Alabama survived the final MyHockey Ranking to get into the playoffs despite losing both games to Auburn last weekend, who is ranked behind them.
This will be the first game between the two teams since the end of September when they played a three-game series at Tampa’s home rink. Alabama’s win in the second of the three games was Tampa’s first regular season loss in three years and first home loss in four years.
A win for the Tide would certainly be an upset, but they’ve already proven they can beat the mighty juggernaut once this year. If they could do it again, they would be a win away from a championship.
Women’s Quarterfinal - (No. 3) South Carolina vs (No. 6) University of Auburn
Six teams made the Women’s playoffs, with the top two teams getting byes to the semifinal. The third-seeded South Carolina Gamecocks may be the dark horse of the tournament. The Gamecocks have only played three recorded games but have shown tremendous potential in those games.
The Gamecocks take on the Auburn Tigers in the quarterfinal matchup Friday. Auburn has struggled this year, losing all six of its games and allowing an average of 11.2 goals per game.
Women’s Quarterfinal- (No. 4) University of Miami vs (No. 5) University of South Florida
The second quarterfinal on Friday night is between the Miami Hurricanes and the South Florida Ice Bulls. This will be the fourth time that the teams will play one another this year. Miami has won all three games by a combined 23 goals.
The Hurricanes are led by Megan Malolepszy, who is tied for the goal-scoring lead in the Women’s division. Malolepszy has scored a remarkable 26 goals in seven games and is tied with Georgia forward Paige Oukes, who has scored the same amount of goals in nine games.
The highest remaining seed from the quarterfinal games will play the No. 2 seed Georgia Ice Dawgs in the semifinals on Saturday. The lowest seed will play the top-seeded Tampa Spartans in the other semifinal game.
Division 2 North Division Playoff Race
With just over a week until the Division 2 playoffs begin, there are still two playoff spots up for grabs in the North Division. All four playoff positions are locked up in the South Division as Florida Atlantic University, the University of Florida, the University of Central Florida, and the University of Tampa have all booked their trip to Huntsville, Alabama.
The University of Tennessee and Vanderbilt University occupy the top two spots in the North Division, with three teams vying for the final two positions. Currently, the University of Alabama in Huntsville sits in third place with 12 points. Clemson is behind them in fourth place with 11 points, and on the outside looking in is Middle Tennessee State with nine points.
Alabama-Huntsville travels to Atlanta to take on Georgia Tech, who has been eliminated from playoff contention. Alabama-Huntsville only needs one point in its two games against Georgia Tech to clinch a playoff spot. Georgia Tech could play spoiler though, and potentially help eliminate the Chargers if they win both games in regulation.
The struggling Clemson Tigers head to Antioch, Tennessee, to fight for their playoff lives against the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders. The Tigers were able to end their five-game losing streak last weekend with a win over UNC Charlotte. The Blue Raiders enter this series after taking three of four points against Georgia Tech to get within two points of Clemson.
Middle Tennessee State must win both games against Clemson to make the playoffs. If Clemson wins one of the two games, both Clemson and Alabama-Huntsville will advance (UAH owns the tiebreaker over MTSU). If Middle Tennessee State were to beat Clemson twice in overtime, and Alabama-Huntsville loses twice to Georgia Tech in regulation, then Clemson and Middle Tennessee State would advance.
Let’s play hockey!
ABOUT College Hockey South: Founded in 2008, College Hockey South is a 29-school, 46 team intercollegiate hockey conference spanning seven southeastern U.S. states that competes in AAU College Hockey. College Hockey South is a 501(c)3 not for profit organization.