Gamecock Club Hockey celebrates one of 12 goals in a victory over Charlotte. Photos by Noah Patheja.
After a dominating series against Charlotte this past weekend, the Gamecocks Hockey team is looking to build on its 6-1-1 record and reach the postseason for a second consecutive season.
Head Coach Allan Sirois said he knows this team is hungry after missing last year due to COVID.
“I think that year off hurt us more than other teams,” Sirois said.
The Gamecocks have 19 games left in the regular season and are currently sitting at third in the Southeast Collegiate Hockey Conference. The Gamecocks are in their first year as part of the Collegiate Hockey Federation after the SECHC moved from the American Collegiate Hockey Association.
The Gamecocks made the ACHA nationals in 2019, which was only their second-ever appearance in the team’s 20-year history. They’ll look to book their first-ever trip to the CHF Federation Cup, a 32-team national tournament.
Although the Gamecocks have never won the SECHC, they will play for their first-ever conference title in Nashville in February.
Junior forward Michael Bolger currently leads Gamecock Hockey with 13 points (goal and assist total) on the year. Senior forward Cameron Mecca is second on the team with 12 points.
The Gamecocks started the year strong with a 4-1-1 record, but the series against Charlotte showed the entire team’s strengths. After scoring a season high of 12 goals at home against the 49ers, the Gamecocks offense is clicking.
Junior forward Owen Thomas helped the Gamecocks win with his second career hat trick. A hat trick is when a player scores three goals in a single game.
“I think we opened the floodgates this game,” Thomas said. “We’re getting back to having fun, which is great.”
Senior forward Luke “Gator” Rudman recorded his first career hat trick against Charlotte.
“All the boys are buzzing,” Gator said. “This is the first game where we’ve generated a lot of offense. It was nice to be able to put in so many so fast.”
Gamecock Hockey’s leading scorer, junior forward Julian Reiss, recorded two goals and two assists in the series against the 49ers.
While the team did well overall, junior goalie Tripp Russell recorded his first two career shutouts against Charlotte. Russell put together a total of 52 saves against the 49ers, but he had help from his defense.
“The guys really pulled it out tonight,” Russell said after the game, and “that makes my job really easy.”
Coach Sirois said Russell had to stay focused despite the 49ers not spending a lot of time in the Gamecocks’ zone.
“It’s really hard for a goalie to stay warm when you don’t see much action,” Sirois said. “He stood in there, he stood his ground. I was real proud of him.”
As for Russell, he has his own way to stay focused during games.
“I love the music. The music just gets me going.”
South Carolina will play the Florida Gators on Nov. 5 and Nov. 7 at the Plex in Irmo.
Junior forward Mike Bolger leads the Gamecock hockey team with 13 points, the combined total of assists and goals. His eight assists on the season also lead the team.
Junior goalkeeper Trip Russell recorded his first and second career shutouts during the Charlotte series.
Head coach Allan Sirois is both a decorated athlete and coach. He was inducted into the ECHL Hall of Fame in 2016 and was named 2019 SECHC Coach of the year.
Senior forward Luke “Gator” Rudman shoots against Charlotte during the 12-0 victory. “Gator” and junior forward Owen Thomas both recorded hat tricks in the dominant win.
ABOUT THE JOURNALISTS
Noah Patheja is a sports journalist from Aiken, South Carolina. Sports has always been a major part of Noah’s life even though he’s the only member of his family who isn’t pursuing a medical career. He wrote for the sports section of the University of South Carolina’s student newspaper, The Daily Gamecock. He currently works as a contributor for The Spurs Up Show, a blog that covers University of South Carolina athletics. He hopes to cover either the NFL or the NHL as a journalist.
Nate Shirley is a multimedia journalist student from Charleston, South Carolina. He spent the 2021 summer as the social media intern for the Hall Management Group, writing blog and Instagram posts for Halls Chophouse Columbia. Shirley has also worked for The Daily Gamecock as a sports reporter covering a wide variety of events including football, baseball and tennis. He hopes to report for a professional or collegiate sports team as a beat writer.