FAYETTEVILLE, Ark- The winner-take-all showdown between the Arkansas Razorbacks and the Alabama Crimson Tide took place Saturday night in front of a packed Jones Center in Springdale, Arkansas.
The winner of this game would take the top seed in the SECHC West Division. Arkansas was looking to complete a 3-peat as regular season West Division champions, while Alabama was looking to win it’s first West Division title since the 2008-2009 season.
It was Senior Night for Arkansas as goaltender Brendan Desjardins and forwards Garth Derry and Justin Gaddy would play their final games as Arkansas Razorbacks, and what a way it was to finish in front of the largest crowd the Razorbacks have ever seen at the Jones Center.
The first period got off to a good start for each team as the energy ran high, but the Ice Hogs struck first with 9:50 left to play in the period when Billy Dolan scored his first of two goals, giving the Razorbacks an early 1-0 lead at the end of the first period.
Alabama tied the game back up in the second period off a shot from Brandon Butler 2:24 in, but Martin Sundstedt of the Razorbacks took back the lead with 3:27 left in the second frame, leaving the score at 2-1 in favor of Arkansas heading in to what would be an exciting third period.
Billy Dolan extended the Ice Hog lead with his second goal of the game 3:54 in to the period, but with 8:28 left to play in the game, Clay Link of Alabama scored to inch the Tide closer to tying the game back.
As the clock ticked down Alabama came full force on the Razorbacks, giving it all they had, but Brendan Desjardins wouldn’t let anything through, securing a 3-2 victory for Arkansas, and their third straight West Division title.
Not only did tonight’s win for Arkansas give them their third West title, but it also gave them the opportunity to receive an automatic bid in to the National Tournament March 14th-17th. No SECHC team has ever gotten an automatic bid to the National Tournament.
The Hogs will also look to win their third straight SECHC Conference Championship February 24th-26th in Columbus, Georgia.
Saturday night’s game will be aired Sunday night at 7:00 pm on UATV, you can find the game at uatvonline.net.