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Georgia sophomore Jackson Katz (23) fights for the puck. The University of Georgia Ice Dawgs hosted Alabama to win by a score of 6-1 on Jan. 9, 2020, in Athens, Georgia. (Photo/ Kathryn Skeean, kskeean@randb.com)

The Georgia hockey team traveled to the Savannah Hockey Classic on Jan. 17 and 18, defeating two rivals to win the tournament title. The Ice Dawgs beat Florida 6-2 and Georgia Tech 4-3 to bring the Thrasher Cup back to Athens.

The Savannah Hockey Classic features Georgia, Florida, Florida State and Georgia Tech. Georgia has now won nine titles since the start of the tournament in 1999.

“There were about 5,000 fans, and most of them were Georgia fans,” sophomore forward Jackson Katz said. “They were all chanting ‘UGA,’ and if something happens they’re on our side. That really gets the boys fired up.”

Georgia attempted to act on opportunities against Georgia Tech throughout the game but were unable to put the puck in the net until the game ended in an intense shootout.

“Our goalie had three saves — he was perfect,” Katz said. “Then Jack Ryan put the game-winner in, and everyone just went crazy.”

Before the electrifying finish, the team briefly stepped away from the ice to make an impact beyond the rink while in Savannah by taking time to reach out to the community. Before tournament play started in Savannah, the Ice Dawgs visited children at Memorial Health University Medical Center with gifts and led the children in cheers.

“We got to get together to do a good thing,” Katz said. “It was a chance to put a smile on their face. It just puts into perspective how blessed we are.”

Katz noted that the Ice Dawgs also found ways to make time to help the team build as a unit. While in Savannah, Katz said the Ice Dawgs walked around River Street together and shared stories.

“We’re closer than ever right now,” Katz said. “We want to fight for each other. This win will keep us rolling.”

Although Georgia recently returned to Athens as Savannah Hockey Classic champions, they must refocus as they travel to Clemson on Jan. 24, which will be followed by a quick turnaround to play at the University of South Carolina on Jan. 25. The Ice Dawgs will not play another home game until Jan 31 against Tennessee.

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