The Georgia Ice Dawgs defeated Florida 4-3 on Saturday night in front of a sold-out crowd inside Akins Ford Arena at The Classic Center. The win moves Georgia’s ACHA record to 11-7-1 on the season.
It was the third meeting between the two teams this season, and the Ice Dawgs have won all three. Georgia used a balanced attack offensively from start to finish, with four different players found the back of the net.
Saturday was the third-straight game Georgia has played in as many days. Bouncing back after Friday’s loss to Alabama provides the Ice Dawgs with some much needed momentum. Getting back into the flow of playing for the first time in almost seven weeks meant grinding out stretches of physical play on both sides.
“We knew that this [weekend] was going to be a real grind for our guys to get through,” Georgia head coach Rick Emmett said. “It was one of those games where we truly were just trying to survive and play with as much structure as possible. You could see the fatigue in our guys with all the mental errors.”
Both teams came out early in the first period playing with physicality. Ice Dawgs sophomore Jackson Katz opened up the scoring with 14:30 to go in the first. Neither side could answer with another goal in the period, as both teams struggled to find any offensive rhythm going back and forth trading time on the power play.
The Gators tied the score at one apiece with 12 minutes remaining in the second period, just as Georgia was gaining a man back from the power play. Georgia’s Jacob Salaski answered with a goal of his own just over a minute later, with assists from both Zack Bochenek and Caleb Santa Maria.
The Ice Dawgs found themselves in a 3-on-5 power play later in the second period as the tension between two conference rivals rose. The Gators had a man of their own placed into the penalty box 50 seconds later, as penalties continued to haunt both teams looking for goals on offense.
“There’s always going to be emotion in a game like this,” Emmett said. “We really have to manage our emotions a little bit better in situations. We’re our own worst enemy at times. Having to kill so many penalties will really take the wind out of [us].”
Sophomore Cameron Campbell scored Georgia’s third goal of the night with under 30 seconds to play in the period to provide a 3-1 lead heading into the third.
Senior Jack Ryan scored Georgia’s fourth goal of the night with 4:37 left in the game. The Gators responded with a late goal of their own to bring it within one but ultimately couldn’t complete the comeback as the Ice Dawgs ended with the 4-3 victory.
Next for Georgia is the first match of the annual Savannah Hockey Classic on Jan. 17 against Florida.
“We have to keep this momentum,” Santa Maria said. “Have to start off strong again like we did today. If we do that, then we’ll come away with a win.”