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While rivalries traditionally rule college sports, one of the SEC's hottest, and least likely, hockey matchups lately has been Florida-Arkansas, two programs that have ruled the conference the past two years."I inherited a program that at that time was on disciplinary probation. In 2009, there were 35-40 people in the stands and seeing that number going up and up and has been a joy," Brian Gallini, Arkansas head coach and law professor told NHL.com. "The nature of the Razorback fan is unique. They'll support anything with a Razorback on it. Football, basketball and baseball obviously lead the attendance parade, but it wouldn't shock me if we were fourth on the list in terms of attendance and attention."Winning has certainly helped draw both attendance and attention at Arkansas.The Razorbacks have won the past two SEC championships, beating Florida both times; 6-2 in 2010 and 5-2 in 2011.
Currently, Alabama boasts a 6-1 mark this season while Florida (6-1) and Arkansas (6-0) were perched atop their respective divisions and looking forward to a championship rematch."The funny thing about Florida is both times we've played them it's been for the SEC title and in neutral locations," says Gallini. "Meeting in back-to-back finals has created a rivalry. This year we'll finally see them during the regular season."As the conference has expanded and improved, players from Europe have even started taking notice of collegiate club opportunities in the south.The improving level of play was apparent in December, when the American Collegiate Hockey Association, the organization which oversees all collegiate club ice hockey, named six SEC teams (Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi, Vanderbilt, and South Carolina) to its Top 15 rankings in the DIII South Region. The six ranked teams were the most the SEC has had at one time.
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