Members of the University of Alabama hockey team prepare for their upcoming season during a Sept. 8 practice at the Pelham Civic Complex.

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Bama hockey hits the ice in Pelham

Published 10:28am Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A University of Alabama sports team is preparing to suit up in crimson and white jerseys and engage in some hard-hitting action against some of the nation’s toughest competition.

But the action won’t be taking place on a freshly painted football field, a basketball arena or a baseball diamond. It will all happen on the ice.

The Alabama Frozen Tide club hockey team, whose home ice is the Pelham Civic Complex, will begin its fifth year of competition Sept. 17 against the University of Central Florida Knights in Orlando.

This year will bring new faces to the club, and the sport’s first-ever ice Iron Bowl to Pelham.

In August, the team, which plays in the American Collegiate Hockey Association, named Massena, N.Y. native Mike Quenneville its third head coach after former head coach Jeff Cheeseman stepped down due to health and family reasons.

“I am pretty excited to have the opportunity to be the head coach,” said Quenneville, who now lives in Huntsville and previously served as an assistant coach for the Frozen Tide.

The team will return several experienced players, and will add a few new members, including a pair of transfers from northern college hockey teams.

“We are excited about our returning players and the new players we are adding,” Quenneville said. “We got some transfer students from Division II schools up north who moved down here for a warmer climate.”

With the Frozen Tide facing a traditional hockey powerhouse in Central Florida to start the season, the Alabama players will have to be ready to play all-out from the start of the season, Quenneville said.

“We’ve got some very tough competition right out of the chute. UCF is the number two school in the south right now,” Quenneville said. “Just about everyone on our schedule this year is tough. We play a lot of ranked teams.”

In addition to UCF, the Frozen Tide also plays at Tennessee, Georgia, Ole Miss and LSU. Alabama also plays host to Vanderbilt, South Florida, Arkansas, Clemson, Florida State, Kennesaw State, Florida and Auburn.

“The Auburn game is going to be huge. This is their first year to field a team,” Quenneville said, noting the ice Iron Bowl will take place in Pelham from Jan. 14-16, 2011. “We are set up to play them in three games this season at Pelham.

“We are going to make up a big trophy for the winner of that game,” Quenneville added.

The Frozen Tide draws hundreds of fans from all across the state and country to the Pelham Civic Complex every year, and the city serves as a great host to the program, Quenneville said.

“Pelham has such a great facility. The ice is some of the best I’ve seen,” Quenneville said. “I would probably say that we have the best facility out of all the other arenas we play during the year.

“Everyone who comes to Pelham to play always talks about what a great facility we have,” Quenneville added. “The city has been very hospitable.”

For more information about the Frozen Tide hockey team, including a full season schedule, visit Bamahockey.net.

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