The Georgia club hockey team defeated Ole Miss 4-3 on Friday night in the home opener at the Akins Ford Arena at The Classic Center. The win brought the Ice Dawgs record to 2-1-1.
The home opener was a rematch of last season’s SECHC championship when Georgia defeated Ole Miss 4-2. The two teams will face off again on Oct. 27 in Huntsville, Alabama, at the Benton H. Wilcoxon Municipal Ice Complex.
The Ice Dawgs struggled at the beginning of the game on both sides of the ice, giving up a goal one minute and a half into the game. Ole Miss’ Brett Dougherty found the back of the net only six minutes later. Georgia struggled defensively and was not getting enough shots on offense early in the match to answer the Rebels strong start. With 5:28 left in the opening period, Ole Miss furthered its lead with a goal from Scott Harlin to go up 3-0.
Senior forward Caleb Santa Maria started the comeback with a goal four minutes into the second period. And then with 9:58 remaining in the period, freshman Matthew Bigda scored another goal bringing the Ice Dawgs within one heading into the third period.
“It took a little while to get their legs under them,” Georgia head coach Rick Emmett said. “Once we started to relax and get to our game, we saw a big difference.”
The Ice Dawgs jumped on the Rebels early in the third period with a goal by Austin Krusko that was assisted by Jack Ryan and Seth Johnston. It was huge for Krusko, who had missed a two-on-one opportunity earlier in the match.
“I was pretty frustrated about that [early miss],” Krusko said. “The shot went on net ... the rebound came right to me, I tried to bang it in one time and missed it. The goalie stopped it with his pad, and it went right to my backhand, and I [was able to] put it in.”
Once Georgia tied the match, it didn’t take long to grab the lead. Johnston scored the fourth and final goal for the Ice Dawgs with 16:24 remaining in the third period. Georgia was able to keep that lead for the remainder of the match, squandering any offense the Rebels tried to generate.
Friday's win is the largest comeback of the young season Georgia will be looking to carry that momentum to this Sunday when it faces Coastal Carolina at 3 p.m. in the Akins Ford Arena at The Classic Center.