IRMO, S.C. – Even though the Gamecocks of South Carolina made the post-season tournament last year in the SECHC, there was still one major issue. Team commitment.
The club ultimately decided to bring in a fresh face in the coaching position. 29-year-old New Jersey native Brian Bauman accepted the job.
Bauman, a graduate of the University of New York at Brockport, was an easy choice for the club because of his prior connection with some of the players, such as team leader Keith Gjeitly. Bauman was eager to accept the position and move up from high school to college ice hockey.
“I coached a lot of these guys in their high school days,” said coach Bauman. “I know their tendencies as players and to be able to coach those same guys on the college level will be a great opportunity and challenge for me and the team.”
Bauman will have hands full with a young roster, as the Gamecocks have a total of 14 incoming freshman on the team this year. However, the young coach considers this a blessing in disguise as he will be able to preach the importance of commitment and determination over the next four years.
Bauman’s message is certainly getting through to the team as the Gamecocks have skated off the ice the past two games in impressive fashion, defeating their opponents by at least eight goals.
“The chemistry is really starting to come together with this team,” said coach Bauman. “I really think we have a great deal of young talent, and have showed that in every game we have played.”
However, Bauman claims that the job is not even close to being done yet. To reach their goal of making the SECHC tournament, the Gamecocks will have to overcome a slow start, losing one game in regulation and one in overtime. Both losses came late in the game, including a goal waived off at the buzzer against Vanderbilt.
Coach Bauman expected these kinds of challenges within the conference. He knows his team has the potential and talent to make a run in this and upcoming years, but he will not hesitate to make changes in the lineups when necessary.
“We have a really solid core of guys this season, but I don’t want any of them to feel comfortable in their spots,” said coach Bauman. “I want them to always have that competitive edge when the skate on to the ice.”
Bauman believes his players are starting to buy in to his message on and off the ice, including freshman Michael Jones who is one of only six players in the SECHC with a shorthanded goal this season.
Bauman is eager for the remainder of the season and looks forward to the continued support of South Carolina fans.
“Ice hockey is an exciting and fast-paced sport,” Bauman said. “The fans are really starting show their understanding of that, and I hope they will continue to do that in the future.”
The fans of the University of South Carolina ice hockey team will certainly have a chance to prove their excitement when the Gamecocks take on the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at home on Friday, October 14th at the Ice Plex in Irmo.