LAKELAND, Fla. - The all-new Florida Southern College men's ice hockey team is set to face off against the University of South Florida this Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Lakeland Ice Arena in the team's first home contest.
This Saturday's matchup will be the first of 16 home games in the team's inaugural season. In addition, Florida Southern will also host the Moccasin Invitational on Dec. 6-8 at the Lakeland Ice Arena, with The Citadel, Flagler, and USF also competing.
"As a first-year program, we feel very fortunate to be able to host as many games as we are at home," Richard said. "Lakeland Ice Arena is a beautiful facility, and our initial open skates have been full of energy. Our team will be very exciting to watch this year."
The Mocs will start off the year with a road contest at USF (Sept. 27) before facing the Bulls in the home opener at 2 p.m. on Sept. 28. Florida Southern will also face Florida (Oct. 4), Flagler (Oct. 5), and an opponent yet to be determined (Oct. 19) before hitting the road to take on Florida Tech (Oct. 25). Throughout the season, Southern will also take on Florida Tech and Eastern Florida State at home twice, with another pair of home games against both Flagler and USF. The team's full schedule can be found here.
The program is led by Gilles Richard, who was named the head coach last month. A native of Moncton, New Brunswick, he has been involved in hockey in the United States as a player, coach, general manager, or director for nearly three decades. In addition to his role as the head coach for the Moccasins, Richard currently serves as the Director of Hockey Operations at Lakeland Ice Arena as well as the Vice President of Hockey Operations for Southeast Elite Hockey.
As a player, Richard played in five different professional leagues including the Sunshine Hockey League, Southern Hockey League, ECHL, ACHL, and World Hockey Association. Over the course of three seasons with the Jacksonville Bullets (1993-96), Richard played in 165 games, tallying 25 goals, 124 assists, and 543 penalty minutes as a defenseman. He also played professionally with the Jacksonville Lizard Kings, Jacksonville Barracudas, and Orlando Seals.
In June, the team was been granted membership into the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA), the national governing body of non-NCAA ice hockey. Florida Southern will play in the ACHA Division III classification in the South Division. The Moccasins are joined by Embry-Riddle, Eastern Florida State College, University of Florida, Florida Atlantic, Florida Gulf Coast, Florida Tech, Florida State, Lynn, UCF, Miami, and USF as the ACHA's member institutions in the state of Florida. Florida Gulf Coast also fields a team at the Division II level.
The ACHA's Division III South Division also includes teams from the states of Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and American University in Washington, D.C.
Florida Southern will play its home contests at the Lakeland Ice Arena which is located on West Memorial Boulevard in Lakeland at the site of the former Interstate Lanes bowling facility. All Moccasin ice hockey contests are open to the public and fre of charge.
Saturday's home opener will include a puck giveaway, free popcorn and beverages for FSC students, and a shuttle service to take students to and from the game beginning. The shuttle will leave from the ROTC building at 1:10 p.m. on Saturday.