UGA Ice Dawgs hockey team defeated the Liberty Flames 10-4 in their fifth home match up of the season, the 23rd consecutive home victory for UGA. The Ice Dawgs are now 7-1-1 on the season.
The offensive effort was led by junior forward David Spielberger who scored the first hat trick of his UGA career as well as senior forward Alex Carey and junior forward Carter Penzien with two goals apiece.
“I was really excited,” said Spielberger. “I’ve had two goals in a game five or six times, and to finally get the monkey off my back felt good.”
The Ice Dawgs previously defeated the Flames on Nov. 2 with a final score of 11-4.
“Tonight was a little bit more of a complete game,” said Ice Dawgs coach Ryan Bray. “I think it also helped that this was [Liberty’s] fourth game in four days, so I think that our intensity stayed up, discipline was there, we wanted to stay out of the box, and we accomplished those things.”
Georgia spent the majority of the first period in Liberty’s defending zone, keeping heavy pressure on the Flames’ defense. With 12:14 to go in the first period, Georgia’s Carey put the first point on the board with an assist by Penzien.
The Ice Dawgs continued a strong defensive effort into the first period and did not slip up until junior Flames forward Brandon Smith, assisted by freshman Thomas Kazmierczak, slapped a goal past Georgia’s freshman goalie Emily Barber with 2:44 left in the first period.
Sophomore forward Caleb Santa Maria injured his knee halfway through the first period and did not return to play. He watched his teammates finish off the victory and was on crutches after the game. The Decatur, Georgia native awaits further evaluation.
“He’s alive and well,” Penzien said.
With the score tied at one-apiece, the players took the ice again as the clock started counting down the second period. Within 26 seconds, Penzien scored twice for Georgia, once at the 18-second mark with an assist by Carey and again at the 26-second mark assisted by Carey and senior forward Zach Flasch.
“We knew we had to play together, knew we had to play as a team,” said Penzien. “Alex feeding me, me feeding Alex, all of that chemistry there. Luckily, we were able to pop a few and get a lead and ultimately get the win.”
Liberty answered quickly with a goal at the 37-second mark by junior forward Andrew Barlass with assists by senior right winger Matthew Graham and senior forward Zach Mitchell.
Carey struck again less than three minutes later with 16:59 to go in the second period to bring the Ice Dawgs up 4-2. Spielberger tacked another goal onto the board for Georgia with 4:26 to go in the second period.
In the second and third periods, both teams attacked each other’s defending zones with the Flames putting more pressure on Georgia’s defense. UGA senior forward Stephen Bray scored the team’s sixth goal at the 40-second mark in the final 20 minutes of the game. Liberty answered with 14:16 to shorten the gap but third period goals by junior forward Christopher Santa Maria, Flasch and Spielberger helped the Ice Dawgs run away with a 6-point lead.
Liberty freshman Thomas Kazmierczak scored with 1:09 to go which Spielberger answered with another, his third of the game with 46.1 seconds remaining.
“We stuck to the basics more this time,” said Penzien. “Getting pucks out of the zone, shots on net, simple plays, so I think ultimately it was just a simpler game that we played to get the pucks in the net and win the game.”