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Georgia’s Caleb Santa Maria (9) slides to a stop next to the South Carolina goal. The University of Georgia club hockey team hosted the South Carolina Gamecocks to lose by a score of 6-4 on Nov. 22, 2019, in Athens, Georgia. (Photo/ Kathryn Skeean, kskeean@randb.com)

The Georgia hockey team defeated Alabama 6-1 in Athens on Thursday night in its first game of the new year.

While the final score points to domination by the Ice Dawgs, four of Georgia’s six goals occurred within 15 minutes of each other during the second period. The beginning and end of the contest lacked significant action in comparison to a powerful push midway through the game by the Ice Dawgs.

The match got off to a slow start with the first goal of the night by the Ice Dawgs coming with 13:07 left in the first period. A powerful hit which resulted in a broken ice rink door and led to an official timeout was the only action that got fans on their feet during the first.

Forward Caleb Santa Maria noted that the team took some time to get back to game speed for their first showing after winter break.

“We started working as a team,” Santa Maria said. “We got our legs out from underneath us, but after that first period, we had it.”

The energy shifted between the first and second period, and the Ice Dawgs turned their defensive game into an offensive attack that brought excitement to the student section with roars greater than those for the broken door.

“We came out more defensively in the beginning to see how they played,” Santa Maria said. After that, we saw their weaknesses and our strong points and knew what to focus on going into the second period.”

Georgia’s sudden offensive force during the second period didn’t spark after a change in its game plan. Head coach Rick Emmett noted the aggressiveness against Alabama came after Georgia found their rhythm after a five week layoff over winter break.

“We had to feel out the game, and it took a little bit to get legs going and competitive edge going,” Emmett said. “The goal was to get pucks in the net and make sure we had traffic around their goalie for those second opportunities.”

Although the Ice Dawgs celebrate the victory over a rival, Emmett explains that the team’s job is not done, as Georgia takes on Alabama again Friday and Florida on Saturday.

“We have to expand on what we did tonight,” Emmett said. “We don’t want to be complacent.”

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