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Clemson ice hockey ‘has no concerns’ ahead of Vanderbilt series

Leah Marie Pereira
Clemson celebrates a goal against South Carolina on Nov. 3, 2023.

Fresh off its most successful semester in club history, the Clemson club ice hockey team will open the spring semester this weekend with a series against the Vanderbilt Commodores.

Posting a 5-13-0 record, Vanderbilt ranks No. 11 in the AAU College Hockey South conference. Comparatively, Clemson (10-4-0) sits near the top of the conference at No. 4 and is ranked No. 6 in the AAU Division II standings.

“We’re feeling great as a team for this upcoming semester,” defenseman Conor Peterson said. “We’ve got some of our most important games of the year coming up in the next couple of months, and we’re looking forward to meeting the expectations we set for ourselves, which includes winning the AAU Division II National Championship.”

Following their meetings with the Commodores, Clemson will face off against DII Tennessee, Charlotte and Middle Tennessee, as well as DI Georgia and South Carolina.

As many Clemson fans recall, Georgia handed Clemson its first loss, 3-1, to open the season. Similarly, the Commodores suffered losses to the Bulldogs with scores of 5-3 and 2-1.

But Georgia wasn’t the only shared opponent for these two teams. Vanderbilt also traveled to Olive Branch, Mississippi, for a weekend series against Ole Miss. While the Tigers road-tripped back to Clemson sporting a 2-0 record against the Rebels, the Commodores could not boast the same.

Vanderbilt split its series, winning 3-2 on Saturday, Dec. 1, but falling short by one goal the following day.

Despite the gap in the teams’ records, the Tigers refuse to count out the Commodores precisely because of performances like these. Forward Will Ralsten spoke on behalf of the team, explaining that his teammates understand how “important it is that (they) don’t get too ahead of themselves and focus on what (they) have in front of them every week.”

Still, the Tigers are confident.

“We’ve got no concerns going into this weekend versus Vanderbilt,” Peterson said. “They’re a good, strong team, but if we play our style of hockey, we’ll have no problem getting four points on the weekend.”

Ralsten shared his teammate’s sentiment.

“I don’t see any concerns that we will have going into Vanderbilt this weekend. By getting back on the ice Wednesday and having a good practice, we will be prepared. We’ve proved to ourselves and the other teams in our league that we are legit and can play with anyone.”

Starting off the semester with two wins is an important step, but just a step nonetheless. In fact, the Tigers set some considerable expectations for themselves at the beginning of the campaign, and they refuse to let up.

“The ultimate goal for us is to win the AAU championship in March,” Ralsten said. “We’ve had our sights set on that since the beginning of the season. We’ve got some big games coming up in the next two months, along with our league playoffs in February, which we also want to win.”

“Our expectations stay the same from the first half of the year to the second,” Peterson said. “Play our style of hockey and win out, which includes bringing home some hardware in the process.”

The meetings with Vanderbilt are set for 6:30 p.m. on Friday and 1 p.m. on Saturday at the Ice Station in Greer, South Carolina.

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Kelly Kaelblein, Asst. Sports Editor
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    Cornelius VanderbiltJan 13, 2024 at 3:35 pm

    Well this aged poorly.