The MTSU Blue Raider hockey team will see plenty of change in 2019 as the team is looking for a new head coach to replace the departed Jason Riherd while transitioning to its first season in the South Eastern Collegiate Hockey Conference (SECHC).
“I think the big thing we really want to look at is finding a little more unity,” MTSU goaltender Josh Friedenberger said in an interview with MTSU Hockey marketing director Abigail Martin. “We need systems that we need to work on in practice and work on getting chemistry throughout our lines to helps us out.”
While featuring plenty of the traditional SEC schools like Georgia, Tennessee and Florida, the SECHC has added plenty of new schools this season through expansion, including MTSU, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Florida State, the University of Alabama Huntsville, Florida Atlantic, Kennesaw State and Lynn University.
While this may strike some traditional SEC fans as puzzling, MTSU has been an independent hockey club since its inception in 2015-16. As part of the American Collegiate Hockey Association, club-level and non-varsity teams don’t have to abide by the same conference guidelines Division I programs do.
“The addition of MTSU to the SECHC is something I'm very excited about going into next season,” SECHC commissioner Justin Bradford said. “Not only has the team grown to be very competitive, but they are all-in on wanting to produce an elite product on the ice.”
MTSU will play in the West Division with Ole Miss, UAH, Arkansas and Vanderbilt. While all of the West Division teams have the regional-rivalry flare to it, there’s no denying that MTSU and Vanderbilt games have the potential to be something special.
“With having so many SECHC schools nearby, the growth of rivalries will surely grow,” Bradford stated. “Within about a four-hour drive, MTSU will play teams like Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Alabama-Huntsville, Ole Miss, Georgia, Kennesaw State and Georgia Tech. Having conference rivals so close will only make each team in the league want to be better, and I'm happy that MTSU will be a part of it.”
“Definitely Georgia is one of the big teams I want to play,” Friedenberger added. “We didn’t do so well against them last year, but this year we’re hoping to come out stronger. I’m hoping we’re up somewhere in the upper part of the conference.”
“Definitely some Florida teams because I have some family down there,” incoming freshman Jackson Taylor said of which teams he’s most looking forward to playing. “Some Vandy games too, that’s a big rivalry. I have some friends on both teams, so it’s a rivalry on the ice but we’re friends off.”
MTSU practices at Ford Ice Center in Antioch on Tuesdays and Thursdays, while regular season games are played Friday-Sunday.
MTSU’s summer skate schedule:
June 28 @ 9:45 p.m.
July 12 @ 9:15 p.m.
July 26 @ 10:15 p.m.
Aug. 6 @ 10:15 p.m.