High expectations for Frozen Tide

Frozen Tide's Mark Wysock was the 2009 leading scorer and has been named one of the assistant captains for the season that starts Friday. / walchukphoto.com

The UA Frozen Tide hockey team will kick off its 2010-2011 campaign with matches this weekend against Central Florida on Friday and Saturday and Florida Gulf Coast University on Sunday.

This year will be a tough one for the Frozen Tide. For the first time, all of the Southeastern Conference schools have hockey teams in the Southeastern Collegiate Hockey Conference. First year head coach Mike Quenneville has high expectations for the team.

“We are returning a lot of players, bringing in talented freshmen and some transfer students,” Quenneville said. “We want to win the SECHC tournament and compete on a national level.”

In preparation for this weekend’s opening set of games with UCF and FGC, Quenneville announced the team captains at practice Wednesday night.

“Four guys have stepped up this year to lead this team,” Quenneville said. “We are proud to announce that Sass Schirmer will be the team captain, and Mark Wysock, Chris Heidkamp and Sean Keeler will be assistant captains.”

Schirmer has been an assistant captain for the Frozen Tide for the last two seasons and will look to step into a bigger leadership role. Last year, Mark Wysock led the team in scoring. He will be entering his third year with the team. Heidkamp is entering his fourth season and was named team MVP last season. Keeler adds a level of toughness to the team and is expected to have a breakout season.

One of the more important parts of the team is player and president Ryan Barletta. Barletta is the person that makes sure that the team runs smoothly.

“All club sports are run by students,” Quenneville said. “He runs the team, and my staff just coaches.”

Barletta has responsibilities on and off the ice. He makes sure all of the paperwork is in, makes sure players are eligible to play and runs the day-to-day operations of the team.

“This is my third year with the team,” Barletta said. “We have a lot of rookies this year, and I will look to be a leader for them. You always have to look out for the young guys.

“On the ice, I want to be a high energy guy. I want to get people pumped up, keep up the intensity, and make sure everyone, including myself, has a good attitude.”

The Frozen Tide’s first SECHC test will be against South Carolina in Marietta, Ga. Sept. 24. Its first home game will be against Vanderbilt Oct. 1 in the Pelham Civic Complex in Pelham, Ala.