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Georgia forward Caleb Santa Maria (9) prepares to shoot. The Georgia Ice Dawgs dismantled the Clemson Tigers with a final score of 8-3 on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, at the Akins Ford Arena in Athens, Georgia. (Photo/Ryan Cameron rcameron@randb.com)

The Georgia club hockey team defeated Clemson on Thursday night 8-3 inside the Akins Ford Arena at The Classic Center. The win brings its ACHA record to 4-3-1 on the season.

The Ice Dawgs four-game winning streak can be attributed to their recent success offensively. After averaging only two goals per game in the first four games of the season, the Ice Dawgs have picked it up, averaging 6.75 goals in the previous four games.

“I think it’s been our overall structure,” Georgia head coach Rick Emmett said. “We talk about ice balance and playing with pace … We’re starting to find our identity as a team and what makes us successful.”

The first period began with both teams struggling to find any offensive rhythm. Junior Emily Barber made her first start of the season at goalie and didn't disappoint, with multiple saves to keep the Tigers scoreless in the first. The lone goal of the period came unassisted by Georgia's Chris Keresztes, with a little over three minutes left in the period.

In the second period, the Ice Dawgs came out aggressive offensively. A 5-on-4 power play gave Georgia the advantage with just under 10 minutes to play, and senior Caleb Santa Maria found the back of the net, scoring his first goal of the evening. With 5:44 left in the period, Santa Maria scored again, putting the Ice Dawgs up 3-0. A Clemson goal by Alex Schreiber with 2:14 remaining brought the Tigers within two heading into the final period.

To start the third period, Georgia’s Dylan Spicer, Jackson Katz, and Zack Bochenek all scored within a minute and a half of each other, putting the Ice Dawgs up 6-1. The goal-scoring didn’t slow down. But this time, it was Clemson finding success. Two goals were scored by the Tigers a couple of minutes apart to narrow the deficit to three. Georgia answered with two goals of its own, sealing the victory.

Thursday night’s game was the first of a two-game fundraiser event the Ice Dawgs are hosting with Bulldogs Battling Breast Cancer to raise funds for St. Mary’s Hospital. Georgia will continue to wear Thursday’s “Pink in the Rink” jerseys for Friday’s matchup against Georgia Tech. The money raised will be used to pay for mammograms for women who cannot cover the expense of testing.

Friday’s game against Georgia Tech marks the second time the teams will face off this season. The Yellow Jackets won the first meeting.

“It’s a rivalry game,” Keresztes said. “There’s obviously a lot of emotion involved … [Georgia Tech] plays a pretty structured system — they don’t really vary from it too much … We have a good team. We have the ability to beat them.”

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