The University of Georgia Ice Dogs defeated rival Ga Tech 7-3 and the Florida State Seminoles 10-4 to win 2 games of their 3 game weekend, but a loss to South Carolina leaves the Bulldogs out of the SEC Hockey playoffs for the first time in the conference 6 year history. Georgia lost 6-1 to the Gamecocks on Thursday night in Duluth, GA placing UGA tied for 4th in the SEC East with Tennessee, but the Ice Vols advance to the SEC Playoffs due to allowing fewer goals against in divisional conference games.
“We have had a strong January and early February,” coach Hoos remarked. “We have won six out of nine games in 2014, and our losses have been to teams ranked #3,#4,  , and a couple of those games we were right in. We are disappointed that we didn’t qualify for the SEC tournament, especially since we feel that our team right now would compete with the top SEC teams, but a couple of our early season hiccups cost us.”
Thursday, Jan 30 USC 6 UGA 1
A fast start for the Gamecocks gave South Carolina an early 2-0 lead in the first period, followed by two more goals toward the end of the opening period to go up 4-0. Strong defense and goaltending for the Gamecocks stymied UGA rallies in the second and third periods. “It was a 2-1 hockey game in the second and third,” junior co-captain Stephen Bray commented after the game. “If we had started out stronger in the first period I think we would have had a shot [to win], but South Carolina is very good.” J.A. Wutschel had the lone goal for Georgia with assist from Bray and Peter Kacer. The Dogs failed to convert on the power play (0-6) for the first time in seven games.
Friday, Jan 31 UGA 10 FSU 4
The Ice Dogs had a much better start to Friday night’s game, scoring the first six goals of the contest before the end of the opening period. Georgia dominated play throughout the first 40 minutes and led the Seminoles 10-2 after two periods. The Dawgs rested many starters in the final period in preparation for their Saturday night game, and appeared to focus their efforts on dump and forecheck play. Leading the scoring for Georgia was Peter Kacer with 4 goals, Eric Mauge with a hat-trick, Kyle Kidwell with a pair, and David Bakin with one. Freshman Grant Schwartz got the win in the Georgia goal stopping 16 of 18 shots, and junior goalie Eric Nilsson stopped 9 of 11 shots in 25 minutes of play.
The Ice Dog power play lit up the Yellowjackets with 5 goals on Saturday night en route to a 7-3 victory in front of a standing-room only crowd at The ICE in Cumming, GA. The defeat of the Yellowjackets was the second in two weeks for the Ice Dogs after UGA beat GT in Savannah on January 18. Senior Kyle Kidwell had a career high 4-goal game, all on the power play, while sophomore Eric Mauge had a goal and four assists. Junior co-captain Stephen Bray and sophomore David Bakin each tallied goals in the first period and added two assists to complete the Georgia scoring. Tech’s Garrett Hough scored twice and Nick Galli had one goal for the ‘Jackets in the loss. Georgia’s Kevin Smith was outstanding in goal stopping 31 of 34 Tech shots.
Georgia controlled the play in the first period out-shooting Tech 18-11 in the opening 20 minutes. The Bulldogs scored first at the 10:18 mark when Bakin snapped home a shot from the left face-off dot to put UGA up 1-0. Then with only :38 seconds remaining in the 1st, Bray finished off an offensive attack from the effective “Bash-brothers” line of Bakin, Kidwell, and Bray to put the Dogs up 2-0.
Georgia netted the first goal of the second period on Kidwell’s first of the night as he deposited a loose puck in front of the GT netminder CJ Layer. The Dogs then ran into penalty trouble and survived back to back 5-on-3 penalty kills until the waning moments of the second two-man advantage for the Yellowjackets when Hough slid home the first of his two to cut the Georgia lead to 3-1.
The third period was all Georgia however, as the Dogs took advantage of a power play to start the final twenty minutes with a Kidwell tap home of a pass from Eric Mauge to put UGA up 4-1 at thte 18:11 mark. With 12:14 remaining, Mauge wristed home a shot past Layer to up the lead to 5-1, and just three minutes later Kidwell completed a hat trick with another power play goal from Mauge and Bray. Kidwell’s fourth of the night put the nail in the Tech coffin as Bray and Mauge combined again on the assists to put Georgia up 7-1 with 3:54 left in the game. The Yellowjackets managed a quick power play goal of their own with 3:13 remaining following a questionable interference call on the Dogs’ Brafford, and a tap-in goal with 2:33 remaining to bring the final to 7-3 in favor of the Ice Dogs.
“It was nice to get the win over Tech in this building to finish out our regular season,” Kacer commented after the game. “I don’t think we have beaten them here until tonight.” The Yellowjackets have defeated UGA in the previous four meetings at The ICE.
The Ice Dogs will take some time off before starting preparations for their first game at The Classic Center in Athens, GA. An official announcement with details of a reported early-April game is scheduled to be released by The Classic Center and UGA Hockey this week, and rumors of a rivalry re-match have been circulating.
GEORGIA 7, GEORGIA TECH 3
Georgia 2—1—4 : 7
Georgia Tech 0—1—2: 3
First Period—Georgia, 10:18, David Bakin (Mauge), PP; Georgia, 0:38, Stephen Bray (Bakin, Kidwell).
Second Period — Georgia, 16:09, Kyle Kidwell (Bakin, Mauge), PP; GT, 1:33, Garrett Hough (Mckinney, Gaudet), PP.
Third Period — Georgia, 18:11, Kyle Kidwell (Mauge, Babb), PP; Georgia 12:42, Eric Muage (Kacer, Babb); Georgia, 9:32, Kyle Kidwell (Bray, Mauge), PP; Georgia, 3:54, Kyle Kidwell (Bray, Mauge), PP; GT, 3:13, Garrett Hough (Sandt, Werble), PP; GT, 2:33, Galli (Gaudet).
A–1,129 (est). The ICE, Cumming, GA