KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (BVM) — Hockey has been prevalent in the East Tennessee area since 1988 with the East Coast Hockey League’s Knoxville Cherokees and now the Southern Professional Hockey League’s Knoxville Ice Bears. The University of Tennessee has had a hockey team since the 1960’s and it continues to grow.
The University of Tennessee club hockey team has not always been full of glitz and glamour. Just three years ago the team went 2-20 before hiring a new coach.
The following season was the COVID-19 season and the Ice Vols only had a handful of games to play, most of which came in the spring semester. The team started out on the road and swept the High Point University Panthers in a two game set. The Liberty Flames were next up on the schedule, as they split that series.
The Ice Vols ended their season with a record of 12-4 and came up just short of an Atlantic Coast Collegiate Hockey League tournament championship at the hands of the Liberty Flames.
The lineup would look fairly similar this season with a large number of returners to the 30-man roster, where the biggest names included: Drew King, Andrej Buchko, Kieran Ogle, Nick Carline, and goaltender Brandon Shaw. Having only graduated two seniors last season, this Ice Vols team still has a lot of youth on the roster that has some potential to do damage in the coming years.
Coming off of the COVID year, the Ice Vols have high hopes for this season and plan on going far. The season opened with a road trip to Kentucky to play the Wildcats in a two-game set of “Midnight Madness.” They ultimately fell in both games to Kentucky, however, the Ice Vols hung in with the Wildcats as they play in the league a step up from the DII division that Tennessee plays in.
Two weeks later it was another road trip, this time to Tampa, Florida, to play the Florida Gators. Questionable officiating and goals were the story for the first game, as the Ice Vols fell 8-7 due to a missed offsides call. They bounced back in game two with an electric 8-7 win in overtime. Captain Drew King provided the all important goal for the Ice Vols first win, moving to 1-3 on the season.
This team is chock-full of talent and are currently moving in an upward trajectory for this season.
Coming off of an outstanding weekend against the South Carolina Gamecocks, the Ice Vols are looking ahead to their upcoming games against the Ole Miss Rebels. The Rebels are a team who won the last South Eastern Collegiate Hockey Conference championship and are looking to defend their title this year.
Drew King provided the team’s offensive prowess early and often. This eventually led to King’s second overtime winner of the season in the first game against South Carolina.
As the season presses on, look for this team to keep getting better. Despite being down three players right now due to injury, the team is utilizing a next man up mentality that is seen in the pros.
Good morning to everyone except the Gamecocks!!
— Tennessee Hockey (@IceVolsHockey) October 9, 2021