You read correctly: These Rebels play hockey
OXFORD – It’s been icy in Oxford the last couple days — perfect for the Ole Miss ice hockey team.
That’s right: These Rebels play hockey, too. Good hockey.
For the second consecutive year, the Ole Miss Hockey Program has qualified for the ACHA (American Collegiate Hockey Association) Division 3 National Tournament.
The Rebels defeated the University of Florida and the University of Alabama at the Regional Tournament in Irmo, S.C., to qualify for the national tournament in Coral Springs, Fla. (March 11 – 16). At the tournament, Ole Miss has been grouped with California University (Penn.), Davenport University (Mich.), and Aurora University (Ill.).
First-year coach Angelo Rosena, who previously served as an assistant captain and assumed the head coaching job during the fall of 2013, says the team will continue many of its routines as they prepare for this year’s tournament.
“Obviously, I didn’t think we would go to nationals my first year, but recruiting has helped with this. As we prepare, I want to keep the things the same that got us to this point this year. I am trying to get practices more fast-paced for the boys, though. And I’m also slightly changing one or two things from last year’s nationals that we have learned from.”
Formed during the 2009-2010 school year, the Ole Miss Hockey Program is in just its fifth year. By the 2011-2012 season, the team had improved enough to qualify for the regional tournament, which helped them prepare for berths to the national tournament in subsequent years. This year, the team has its eye on the ultimate prize.
“The ultimate goal is of course to win it all,” says Addison Oliver a sophomore from Raleigh, N.C., who played hockey before coming to Ole Miss. “If you don’t think that your team can win a championship, then you are playing for the wrong reason. With that said, I would really like to see us make it further this year by winning more than one game and advancing out of pool play. This year we won’t be able to sneak up on teams like last year so we have to bring our ‘A’ game.”
During the season, the team splits its home games between the Mid-South Ice House in Olive Branch, Miss., and the Bancorp South Arena in Tupelo. In the past, the Ole Miss Ice Hockey team has traveled as far as Orlando, Fla., Cincinnati, Ohio, and East Lansing, Mich., to play a wide variety of teams from the north, northeast and western United States. The typical season lasts from September to March.
There are 30 players on this year’s team which is mostly supported through donations, fundraisers and player dues. The team has its won website: http://olemiss.sechchockey.com/