Alabama Hockey Assistant Head Coach and GM, David Noble, was kind enough to answer a few preliminaries for us on the eve of the Iron Cup --the annual three-game
hatefest series against Auburn University.
Hockey is a relatively new sport on campus. When did Alabama's club get started, and what was the impetus for doing so?
The team was started in 2005 by 15 players that wanted to represent the Capstone. It played two games versus Vanderbilt that season. After that, the Tide has been an official ACHA hockey team. The current coaching staff took over in 2008. (Ed. Note: Head Coach Mike Quenneville; tomorrow, we will discuss the roster, coaching staff and the Iron Cup).
There are many different tiers of collegiate hockey. A complete discussion is beyond the scope of this interview, but, what division does Alabama play in, and how is it -broadly speaking- different from larger names like North Dakota, Maine etc?
NCAA Division 1 Hockey is just like NCAA Division 1 Football, but there are only 54 teams across the country with 18 scholarships or less (and some teams do not offer scholarships). The University of Alabama hockey team is considered a club sport, and is organized under the recreation department at the University.
As a club sport, are you -like most club teams- unsupported by athletic dollars? Where does funding come from?
The team is funded through a University budget item, gate receipts from games, and player fees. The team also excepts donations and corporate sponsorships. The players have to travel on their own, arrange for their own coaches, and administer team functions usually handled by an athletic department, including academic compliance.
What are the other teams in the conference, and who -even at this early stage of the club, are considered Alabama's main rival(s)?
Everyone in the SEC plays hockey except for LSU, but we are hopeful that they come back soon. The SEC championship takes place in Pelham on Feb 7-9, but the Iron Cup is the biggest weekend of the year. The University's traditional rivals are similar to the hockey team: You have to beat Tennessee (8-2 last Friday) and Auburn every year.
Where is Alabama's home ice, and what is the price of admission?
All of the games are played at Pelham civic complex and tickets are usually $5 except the Iron Cup and SEC Championship; those tickets are $10. The facility seats 3,500, and, to date, has only been sold out for Auburn. We hope to change that real soon (Ed. Note: Pelham isn't that far; tickets are cheap. In the immortal words of Saban...well, you know where to put your butts.)
What has been the biggest success of the team in its short history?
The team is 11-7-2 this season, and the computers have our strength of schedule as Number 1 in the country. We have a number of big wins this season already. I would say that qualifying for the National the first time in 2012 was the biggest step in the success of the program. Also, beating Auburn every time we have played them so far (Ed. Note: Roll Tide).
How would you describe the Alabama style of play? Is it a more physical team? A fast-paced, skills team? A defensive and goal-tending style?
The team is fast and hard working. We try to teach them a disciplined aggression. Our coaching system follows Coach Saban's lead in that we teach our players to accept responsibility for their actions. Focus on doing your job to the best of your ability. It's all about preparing for the post season.
What general information would you like to pass along to RBR readers, and where can they learn more about Alabama Hockey?
People can find out more about the team on www.alabamahockey.com or by following us @bamahockey on Twitter. Or just read Roll Bama Roll
On a final note, I will Jimmy Wales/Wikipedia you all: These guys have to pay for their own gear, repurpose jerseys, pay for their own coaches and travel etc. They are kids getting a degree and paying their way; ambassadors for a great game and for the University of Alabama. I thank them very much. Please consider tossing a few bucks their way, and especially consider supporting them in Pelham this weekend and beyond. Roll Tide.
Tomorrow we discuss the this team and this weekend's Iron Cup.