Friday, May 6, 2011

It's Not Over Yet

Just a friendly reminder that while the devastation in Alabama was bumped off the front page by another story you may have heard about, the fallout from the second-deadliest string of tornadoes in US history is still unfortunately very much there. In fact, just on Wednesday the state's insurance commissioner said that damages could reach $2 billion.

Someone once lived there.

Ben Jones at Victory Bell Rings did a fantastic job of coordinating the PSU blogosphere and getting the word out in our community. I'm just here to keep the ball rolling to whatever extent my reach will allow. If you haven't yet donated to relief efforts, or even if you have, please, please consider helping out.

University of Alabama assistant hockey coach David Noble recommends UA's Acts of Kindness Fund is one very worthy place to make a donation to help - funds will be "used to help UA students, faculty and staff who need assistance as a result of storm damage." Of course, there are many worthy organizations helping out, and who distributes the money is obviously less important than the money getting there.

Many of the blog pieces about the tragic events down there used the tremendous shared history of Penn State and Alabama in football - including the game in 2010 as well as the upcoming game in 2011 - as an angle. Unfortunately, I'm unable to do the same thing, as Bama's hockey program started in 2005-2006 and plays in the ACHA's Division 3. But I can still talk about them a little.

First off, don't let that number next to the word "division" fool you. In my experience, many D1 teams could learn a thing or two about how to run a hockey organization from many in D3, including Bama and most of their rivals in the South Eastern Collegiate Hockey Conference. The organizations are well-run, professional, and have been known to put 6,000-7,000 butts in seats - such as for Alabama's three-game weekend series with Auburn at the Pelham Civic Complex in January, the inaugural Iron Cup.

The Tide likes stomping Auburn in hockey, too. Photo: Jeff Roberts (Birmingham News)

During the just-completed 2010-2011 season, the Frozen Tide put up a very sturdy 20-11-1 record and qualified for the D3 South Regional tournament with a No. 3 ranking in the region.

While they were upset by South No. 10 UNC-Wilmington and South No. 9 Florida at regionals, the future looks bright for Bama, as the team loses just five seniors and returns 19 who were freshmen or sophomores last year. That second number includes standouts like forwards David Mosier, Brandon Butler, Zach Dailey, Jeff Pease and towering Christopher Schmidt. Butler and Dailey are Alabama natives (along with eight teammates from last season), evidence of how Bama hockey has contributed to the sport's growth in non-traditional areas. I fully expect them to make their first trip to the D3 national championship tournament in the near future.

The Frozen Tide also has a fantastic track record of charity and community work. You probably noticed the pink socks in the photo above, worn as part of the Play for the Cure campaign (a cause they wholeheartedly support, thanks in part to the story of Brent Ullom). Another fundraising game, the Fillo Faceoff (named for former player Steve Fillo, who was killed in a 2009 car accident) helps "to sponsor young athletes beginning to enjoy the game."

Not bad for an organization that's younger than my dog. For more on the team, go to

In case it crossed your mind while reading all of that, yes, all of the players are accounted for. Others, however, weren't so lucky. And even if they're alive, maybe their house isn't. Alabama, particularly their hockey team, helps others whenever they're able. It's our turn to help them back.

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