University of Georgia club ice hockey head coach Rick Emmett speaks to guests at the team's Puck Drop event at the Classic Center in Athens, Georgia, on Thursday, Sept. 7, 2018. The event drew season ticket holders, fans and guests to interact with the team before the start of the season. (Photo/Vira Halim, www.virahalim.wordpress.com)

Georgia’s club hockey team kicked off their preseason with the Puck Drop event held at the Classic Center Thursday night.

Head coach Rick Emmett, players, season tickets holders and sponsors came out to show their support for the upcoming season, a season in which Georgia hockey will welcome some fresh faces on the ice.

After the loss of five seniors from last season, Emmett looks forward to working with the 10 incoming freshmen.

“We have a good core of young players who should be able to contribute pretty early on,” Emmett said.

Two standout freshmen, Jackson Katz and Thomas Wool, are expected to “fill some holes” left by the graduating seniors.

“Our goal right now is to take [the season] in increments, which we do every year,” Emmett said. “It’s a similar group. We’ve got some good returning guys that know what it takes to be there.”

"Will it be easy? Obviously not, but we have the ability as a group and should be able to make a good run out of it."

- Rick Emmett, Georgia hockey head coach

While the end game is the American Collegiate Hockey Association National Championship, the team plans to focus on getting players familiar with systems and plays to get them back to the national championship for the third time.

“Will it be easy? Obviously not, but we have the ability as a group and should be able to make a good run out of it,” Emmett said.

Assistant coach and general manager, John Camp, agrees the national championship is the target for the season and is within reach with the incoming and returning players.

Camp, who is in charge of recruitment, says they focus on visiting top prep schools in the North and Midwest who have high academic standards that match the rigor of the University of Georgia.

“We’ve been to Michigan, New York state, Wisconsin, Illinois, Philadelphia and Minnesota,” Camp said. “That’s the type of thing we need to keep doing to elevate ourselves and get back to nationals.”

While the program finds it difficult to recruit because they aren’t able to give athletic scholarship through the university, Camp says the competitiveness of the team and the location make it easier to attract potential players.

“We have the hockey, we have one of the best head coaches out there with professional background, but as a staff we’re also preparing them for after graduation,” Camp said.

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