Through tragedy, Tide comes together

The University of Alabama Frozen TIde hockey team has overcome a pair of pre-season tragedies to make a successful run against strong opposition early this season. (File)

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

For University of Alabama hockey team head coach Mike Quenneville and his team, this year has been an emotional ride.

After the university’s home city was devastated by the April 27 tornado outbreak, the hockey team lost one of its own when 19-year-old David Mosier passed away in his sleep about a month before the 2011-2012 season began.

But through the pair of tragedies, the team and its leaders have grown closer and more resilient during what Quenneville called one of the “toughest early season schedules in the nation.”

“It’s been tough on the players and the staff. Most of them went through the tornado last year, and it was tough to lose David in August,” Quenneville said. “But he is remembered at practice every day. After practice, we all huddle at center ice, put our sticks in the air and say his jersey number: ‘71 Roll Tide.’”

During every game the Frozen Tide has played this year, the team members have hung Mosier’s jersey on the back of their bench to remind them of Mosier’s influence on the team.

“He had a lot of positive influence with the guys. We still miss him every day,” Quenneville said.

Playing in Mosier’s honor has helped the team find success during a grueling opening run to start the season. The Frozen Tide’s record currently sits at 7-9, but the losses have come against some of college hockey’s perennial powerhouses, such as Michigan State, Central Florida and Florida Gulf Coast.

The first southern collegiate hockey rankings were recently published, which placed Alabama third behind Central Florida and Florida Gulf Coast.

Quenneville said he intentionally scheduled early season matchups against some of the strongest teams in the country to give the Frozen Tide a taste of the national championship tournament.

“Our goal is to get to the national tournament this year,” he said.

The team’s next steps toward earning a spot in the national tournament will come at home at the Pelham Civic Complex Nov. 19 against Virginia Tech. During the game, which will begin at 7:30 p.m., all proceeds generated through ticket sales will benefit tornado relief in Tuscaloosa.

After the Virginia Tech game, the Frozen Tide will travel to Columbus, Ga., from Dec. 2-4 to take on arch-rival Auburn University in the second-annual battle for the Iron Cup.