Updated: Jan 24
In a chaotic series, the Tigers come out on top.
COLUMBUS, Ga. - On their senior night Saturday and in an early morning Sunday game, the Auburn Tigers took care of business against the D-II contingent of the Alabama Frozen Tide Hockey program, defeating their rivals from Tuscaloosa 7-1 and 6-4 respectively.
Saturday, Jan. 22: Auburn 7, Alabama 1
In game one, the battle was physical from the outset, with players on both sides being knocked down left and right. The home team took the lead early thanks to a Henry Lange shot from the slot. The opening score was assisted by captain Blake Robison and defender Henry Humphrey, who made his return from a torn ACL on Saturday.
The Orange & Blue generated plenty of looks from in tight, all while stifling the Alabama attack with an effective neutral zone forecheck. The turnovers they forced, coupled with a roster deep in swift skaters, led to numerous counterattacks and odd man rushes the other way as the Tide ended up frustrated.
Freshman Noah Henry found the back of the net for his ninth tally of the season, assisted by Chuck Bay. Auburn closed out a dominant first 20 minutes with a third goal, again coming from the speedy Henry Lange and assisted by James Hitt and Blake Robison.
After a 3-0 first period where the Tigers held the Tide to just four shots on goal, Henry Lange scored a third goal for his first career hat-trick as an Auburn Tiger. The Fond du Lac, Wi. native has been part of a highly productive crop of rookie skaters for an Auburn team that’s continued its upward trajectory from the 2019-20 season. The goal was unassisted.
Alabama pushed back after digging a 4-0 hole, controlling possession and scoring chances for a decent span after the Lange goal before Max Savaloja ended Cam Denk’s shutout bid at the 16:27 mark off a pass from Connor Plamondon. This heated meeting of the state’s top two teams got interesting in the second when a total of seven players visited the penalty box.
The Tigers were able to capitalize on one of these penalties with a power play goal from Henry Humphrey to bring the lead back to four (assisted by Ryan Scott), before Chuck Bay made it 6-1 on another man advantage opportunity, assisted by Noah Henry and Jacob “J.J.” Blanding.
Going into the third period up 6-1, Noah Henry was able to put one final goal on the board and chew away the clock to win the first game of the Iron Cup series 7-1 over the Crimson-donning villains. Goaltender Cam Denk was spectacular again, stopping 28 of 29 shots for an enormous win. Auburn consistently outshot Alabama and finished the leader in shots on goal at 38-29.
Sunday, Jan. 23: Auburn 6, Alabama 4
After suffering a thorough drubbing at the hands of the home team on Saturday, it seemed like history might repeat itself as the Frozen Tide fell down 1-0 just 2:40 into the opening period of the Sunday afternoon rematch, with Chuck Bay burying his 12th of the season on a power play goal assisted by Noah Henry and Ryan Scott.
However, an early blowout was not to be. The Tide applied heavy pressure and cut to the net with speed, producing dangerous chance after dangerous chance and eventually tickling the twine. Max Savaloja nabbed a power play goal (his second of the series) assisted by Jacob Oldham to tie the game.
Penalties amassed rapidly for both sides and played a key factor in this game in many regards, with captain Blake Robison being ejected for boarding just 4:33 into the first period. All but two of the ten combined goals in this game came via special teams play.
After Robison was ejected, Noah Henry found an opening on the ensuing penalty kill and sprung for a goal, assisted by senior Brandon Weis. The Tigers exited the first period with a tenuous 2-1 lead.
The second period was a bloodbath, with nine penalties called between both teams. Just under eight minutes in, the Tide found their equalizer off the stick of James Martin, assisted by Jacob Oldham, but Auburn counterpunched with an Andrew Woomer goal assisted by Chuck Bay to retake a one score advantage.
After Sam Edwards found the back of the net on a power play goal assisted by Noah Henry, it seemed like the Tigers were set to pull away. Instead, Matt Brown dragged the Tide right back into things with a power play goal assisted by Max Savaloja and James Martin, putting the score at 4-3 entering the final frame.
The Frozen Tide heavily outshot Auburn all day, ending things with a 44-27 shots on goal advantage. This was reflected in an explosive third period that culminated in Matthew Dumond tying the game for the visitors via a power play goal assisted by Connor Plamondon.
The Tide upped the pressure and believed they had a goal to put things away a bit past the halfway mark of the third period, but the referees waved it off citing that the net had come off of its moorings before the puck crossed the line.
From there, the Tigers found their legs again. Chuck Bay ripped the puck past Tyler Terranova for a shorthanded goal off of an offensive zone face-off, assisted by his centerman Noah Henry. Finally, Ryan Scott blasted home a power play goal to seal the deal on a 6-4 Auburn win. Goaltender Cam Denk’s final numbers belied his performance, with the 19-year-old ending his weekend on a 40 save outing.
Blake Robison’s two assists on Saturday land him at second all time in career helpers with 28 in 52 career games, trailing program legend Chandler Brown’s 48 in 69 games.
After racking up seven points over the weekend, Noah Henry launched himself into record-breaking scoring pace. The 20-year-old freshman is now having the best season by points-per-game of any Auburn player ever, and leads all Tigers in overall scoring.
Henry Lange and Chuck Bay both had outstanding weekends as well, ending up with three goals apiece. All three members of the top line (Henry, Lange, and Bay) are playing their first full season in Orange & Blue.
Sophomore goalie Cam Denk stopped 67 of 72 shots between Saturday and Sunday, bringing his season save percentage and goals allowed average to .930 and 2.35. The rookie is on pace to set program records in both statistics.
COMING UP NEXT
Auburn will travel to the Sunshine State on Feb. 4 and 5 to face the current No. 8 FAU Owls on the road. The Tigers and Owls are both teams battling for the right to attend the Collegiate Hockey Federation’s national tournament, the Federation Cup, later this March, and will likely be top seeds in the SECHC Tournament. The games will be played at 7:30 and 11:45 ET, respectively. Streaming details are to be determined.