March 16, 2013
From Athens Banner-Herald and Online Athens
UGA club hockey team hopes season’s success carries over
By Matthew Pearce email@example.com –
Online Athens March 16, 2013 Copyright 2013 Online Athens. http://onlineathens.com/sports/college-sports/2013-03-16/uga-club-hockey-team-hopes-seasons-success-carries-over
The Georgia club ice hockey team doesn’t have the funding of the university’s varsity sports, and it doesn’t have quite the following the sport may draw in other areas of the country.
What it does have is a prestigious club tournament title that it hopes to build upon as it enters the offseason.
It is an impressive feat given the adversity the team has faced.
“Going into the start of the season, you can never predict the adversities you will face,” said Ice Dogs coach John Hoos, whose team finished the season 10-15 overall. “Throughout the course of the season, we lost several players to injury, and we had a couple that academically decided to do some different things. Overcoming those sorts of adversities and still accomplishing some of our goals is remarkable.”
Hoos, who has coached the team for 14 years, described winning the Thrasher Cup at the Savannah Tire Hockey Classic in January as the pinnacle of a difficult season. The tournament has been held in Savannah for 15 years and this years triumph was Georgia’s sixth title, but the team’s first since 2007.
Senior goalkeeper Vince DiCarlo said that winning the Savannah Hockey Classic was one of his most satisfying moments at Georgia, particularly since it would be his final appearance at the tournament, which routinely draws sellout crowds of more than 5,000 fans to the Savannah Civic Center.
“I’m not sure words can really express how important winning the Thrasher Cup this year was,” DiCarlo said. “I’ve played at high levels of hockey before I came to UGA, and I have never been a part of a tournament like the Savannah Classic. I personally had been looking forward to that tournament since we lost against (Georgia) Tech in the final game the year before. I’ve never wanted to win anything more than that tournament this year, and the emotions after finally getting to hold the trophy were indescribable.”
Winning the tournament for the first time since 2007 will have a carryover effect, according to Hoos, who believes that the returning players now have the taste for success that they can share with newcomers.
Victory in Savannah was only one goal the Ice Dogs had this season. Thanks to their 5-3 record in the Eastern Division of the South Eastern Collegiate Hockey League, they achieved another goal by qualifying for the conference tournament.
“If you make it to the postseason, you’ve probably given yourself a chance to win a championship and we got ourselves there,” Hoos said. “I’m proud of the way the team played, especially in the SEC schedule. We ended up playing Alabama in the first round of the playoffs, and they’re one of the top rated teams in the country. I think we gave them all they could handle, but came up a little short.”
Georgia fell to the Alabama Frozen Tide 5-1 in its first round playoff game. However, the disappointment of losing out to the eventual tournament runner-up didn’t dampen New Jersey native DiCarlo’s enjoyment of his final season.
“For me personally, this was probably the most satisfying season I’ve had playing for UGA hockey,” DiCarolo said. “We had a great group of guys that really jelled well off the ice, and that chemistry showed on the ice even when things were not going well. I thought that we won a couple of games against teams who were significantly more talented than us and were able to come close on a couple of other occasions. I was really happy that we all supported each other and kept playing to the best of our abilities despite losing players.”
The team’s successes received international recognition last year as DiCarlo, teammate Peter Kacer, and Hoos were chosen to join the American Collegiate Hockey Association select team for a 10-day European tour from December 28th to January 6th. The opportunity afforded to him is one that DiCarlo is grateful for.
“The biggest opportunity that the team has given me was my trip to Europe this winter, though. Myself, Peter Kacer, and Coach Hoos were fortunate enough to be selected to be on the ACHA DIII Select team, which was a team made up of college players from around the country. We traveled to Germany, Slovenia, and Austria to compete against local professional teams. The whole experience was incredible, and it was something that I thought I would never have the opportunity to do. The trip was just a lot of fun and it went by way too fast.”