Some of the top club college hockey teams from throughout the Southeast will converge in Columbia Feb. 21-22 to compete for a spot in the American Collegiate Hockey Association's (ACHA) Division 3 National Championship at The Plex Indoor Sports and Ice in Irmo. Eight teams will vie for two spots in a two-day event that will feature six games among some of the best college club hockey teams in the country.

The University of South Carolina finished No. 4 in the final American Collegiate Hockey Association rankings, making the Gamecocks the second seed in the South Regional playoffs. The Gamecocks will play No. 9 Christopher Newport University at 8 p.m. Friday in the first round.

Florida Gulf Coast and Central Florida finished in the top two spots, earning the South Region automatic bids to nationals. The next eight teams will compete in six games for the final two spots leading to the National Championship.

Alabama finished third, and will play Liberty University in the first round at 5 p.m. Friday; No. 5 Florida will play Mississippi at 2 p.m. and No. 6 UNC-Wilmington will play No. 7 Miami at 11 a.m.

"Hockey fans will not want to miss this," said Brian Bauman, coach for the University of South Carolina and manager of The Plex Indoor Sports and Ice in Irmo. "Every team playing in the Regionals is capable of winning one of the two spots in the National Playoffs. Our goal was to finish as one of the top two teams, but we're happy to finish fourth in a very competitive region. Every game, for every team, will be tough. It will be six good hockey games."

USC played seven of the South Region's top 10 teams during the season - including Christopher Newport, which beat the Gamecocks twice in Virginia. South Carolina finished 20-8-2 and was 9-8-2 against Top 10 teams, including Oakland, the No. 2 team in the North Region, and Arkansas, the top-ranked Pacific Region team.

"We played a very competitive schedule, and hopefully that has prepared us for the regionals," Bauman said.

The winners of Friday's games will play at 2:15 p.m. and 5 p.m. on Saturday. The winners of Saturday's games will go to the National Championship March 11-15 in Coral Springs, Fla.

"This is going to be good hockey," Bauman said. "Some of the best club teams in the country will be playing at The Plex. We are very excited to be able to host this event."

Tickets are $10 per day, or $15 for the weekend. Kids under 10 get in free. USC season tickets will not be accepted because it is an ACHA event. Call The Plex Indoor Sports and Ice in Irmo at (803) 732-1900 for more information.

Get more information on ACHA College Hockey Regionals on our calendar of events.