The Division III Razorbacks are prepping for Regionals after bringing home the SECHC Championship in Nashville this past weekend. While there, the Ice Hogs faced Vanderbilt, Kentucky, and Florida.
For their first game of the tournament, the Razorbacks met Vanderbilt on Friday night. According to Coach McDowell, the Hogs “had a slow start to the game against Vanderbilt. We have a young team and we were probably looking ahead to our second round matchup against Kentucky.”
Vandy took a 1-0 lead at the end of the first period. But, led by the captains, the team rallied and scored two goals in the second (from Grand Deacon and Captain Andrew DeNome), outshooting Vandy 19-3. Then, in the third period, Vandy made a strong push and Arkansas had to kill off 4 penalties in the final frame. The third period was led by their goaltender Dalton Baker who played very strong. Late in the period, Drew Hill buried a breakaway to tally an insurance marker for the Hogs who went on to win 3-1.
The Team then met Kentucky in the semi-finals on Saturday, February 10th. Coach McDowell says the Razorbacks “knew they were in for a fight with their 2nd round opponent Kentucky, who was 20-7 at the Division 2 level this season.” But the Hogs did not back down. They “came out swinging” and put up three goals in the first frame. They played stout defense led by Freshman Tyler Valdron (who also scored), Alex Kueser (who also had a goal) and Freshman Goalie Jozef Dusenka.
The Wildcats made it a game by scoring early in the second period on the power play. But Matt Lasky was able to bring the lead back up to 3 again late in the 2nd period with his first of two goals in the game.
In the third period, Arkansas did not let Kentucky back into the game. They finished strong with 3 goals from Senior Trey Lowry, Freshman Grant Deacon, and Junior Matt Lasky. The Hogs made it on to the finals to face-off against the Florida Gators.
On Sunday, February 11th, the Hogs finally made it to the Championship game, allowing them to reach one of their major goals on the season. They had to face long time SEC Finals Rival, the Florida Gators. Arkansas battled hard and had to deal with a 2 minute 5-3 penalty kill in the first period.
Shortly after their strong penalty kill, the Hogs lit the lamp for the first time in the game. Evan Kerr was able to bury a great pass from long-time lineman Trey Lowry to put the Hogs up 1-0. The Hogs would later add a second goal from the stick of Drew Hill. After 20 minutes, the Hogs were up 2-0.
Less than a minute into the second period, Florida scored their first goal. However, Evan Kerr buried his second goal of the night and was able to put the Hogs back up on top 3-1. After a back in forth period that included of a disallowed goal on the shoulders of Alex Kueser the Hogs kept fighting. Less than a minute remaining in the period, Alex Kueser made an incredible play—dangling the Florida defender by putting the puck between his legs—and ripping a shot to the top left corner to extend the lead to 4-1.
In the final frame, the Hogs battled through 3 penalties including a five-minute major by Jacob Yaseen. The PK shut the door and didn’t allow Florida to cash in on any opportunities. Later that period, Matt Lasky scored his 3rd goal of the tournament to help Arkansas win the SECHC Championship game 5-1 over Florida.
This is the Division III Team’s 6th SECHC Championship in the last 9 seasons, and 1st since the 2014-2015 season.
Additionally, during the 2017-18 SECHC Awards Ceremony, the Razorbacks took home four awards: Third Team All-SEC Alex Kueser and Sky Chambers; Second Team All-SEC Trey Lowry; and First Team All-SEC Jozef Dusenka.
The Hogs are awaiting the Regional Ranking to see who they will face in the first round of the Pacific Regional Tournament on February 23-24th.