Georgia hockey defeated rival Georgia Tech 5-2 in Athens to complete a four-game home set in which the Ice Dawgs won every contest.
The Ice Dawgs ran out a different goalie for the third consecutive match. They went with junior Brady Mulligan, who was a perfect 9 for 9 on save opportunities in the first period.
Defense was key in the rivalry clash. The Ice Dawgs scored just one goal until Zack Bochenek added on to the lead with 2 minutes, 39 seconds left in the second period. The scoring then took off with five goals in the third period.
The Ice Dawgs appear to have hit a stride after the home set.
“That is what we wanted to do,” head coach Rick Emmett said. “To get home and get in front of our own fans and really get that energy. We want to capitalize on that as much as we can and use that as a springboard going into next week.”
That energy came through in a big way. The Ice Dawgs played their most aggressive game this year and that physicality appeared to catch Georgia Tech off guard.
Led by senior defender Aaron Phillips, Georgia came out strong and aggressive and it paid off when the opponent was worn down. Emmett had high praise for his veteran defenseman.
“[Phillips] was a warrior tonight for sure and he has been like that this year,” Emmett said. “He has had a real big impact on our [defensive] core for sure. We were down one D-man tonight. Having guys like Philly and Kyle [Harris] step up is huge for us.”
The game’s physical nature managed to get the sellout crowd on their feet. The rivalry game was a sellout and big hits by Phillips ignited those spectators.
“It was probably more of us remembering they tagged us earlier in the season and we were looking to get a little revenge,” Phillips said. “But it definitely helped that our game plan was to come in physical and just straight out of the gate with tackles.”
After a slow start to the season, the Ice Dawgs are back on the right track. Georgia Tech marks their fifth consecutive victory. The streak began with a 10-4 drubbing of Tennessee.
The Ice Dawgs feel like the tide is turning.
“We had a rough first three or four weeks,” Phillips said. “But after going out to San Diego and having a great time there building as a team, we have come together since then and everything has been going on all cylinders.”