The Arkansas Razorbacks did not have an easy road to the SECHC championship game at Ford Ice Center in Antioch. The Ice Hogs had to go through 7-seed Vanderbilt, 3-seed Kentucky and 4-seed Florida, but Arkansas ran the gauntlet, winning the school’s sixth SECHC championship.
“We’ve worked all year to be here,” Arkansas assistant coach Marcus Parsons said prior to the championship game. “This is our No. 1 goal, to win the SEC championship.”
“It feels amazing,” alternate captain Evan Kerr said. “This was our season goal all year long. We just came out here, played our best and came out with a win.”
“(It feels) pretty good,” SEC tournament MVP Alex Kueser added. “Honestly, whenever we went into the season, you really hope for it, but never really expect it to happen. Finally, it’s come true. It’s really great for all of these seniors, it’s their last year and it’s good to finally bring the trophy back. I’m not really good at interviews, I just can’t believe this is happening right now.”
Arkansas jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period on goals from Kerr and forward Drew Hill. The Ice Hogs extended the lead to 4-1 in the second with goals from Kerr and Keuser. Zach Palmer, Trey Lowry, Tyler Valdron and Jake Sharrer all added an assist.
“I’ve got to hand it to them (my teammates), they were the ones who set me up,” said Kerr, whose two-goal performance set the tone for the Ice Hogs. “(This is) a team game. We just had to stick to our game plan. We had a game plan throughout the week and it was working before, so we just stuck to it.”
Holding a three-goal lead to start the third, forward Matt Lasky scored early in the period on a breakaway, giving Arkansas a commanding 5-1 lead. Despite Florida’s best effort, the Gators just couldn’t get anything past Arkansas goalie Jozsef Dusenka.
“Whenever we have Duse (Dusenka) in net, we have so much confidence,” Kueser said. “They can have a 5-on-1 on him and still wouldn’t score on him; he’s the best goalie I’ve ever seen.”
The SEC championship wasn’t the only trophy Arkansas left Antioch with. On Saturday, prior to the tournament games, the SEC award ceremony was held. Arkansas goalie Jozsef Dusenka was named to the All-SEC first team, forward Trey Lowry was named to the All-SEC second team, and forward Alex Kueser and defenseman Sky Chambers were named to the All-SEC third team.