September 18, 2014 Athens, GA
The Georgia Ice Dogs hockey squad is gearing up for the start of its 2014-2015 season, which begins with a rivalry matchup with the Florida Gators on Sunday, Sept. 21 in the Athens Classic Center.
Georgia’s upcoming season will be a special one indeed, as it will be the team’s first playing its home games in the nearby Classic Center in downtown Athens. The advantages of playing in the Athens area seem to be immense for head coach John Hoos’ squad, including a larger fan presence that will be on hand game after game.
“We are absolutely stoked to play in The Classic Center and to have it as our home ice,” said junior forward David Bakin. “To have 2200 fans cheering us on each game will be an awesome experience.”
The Ice Dogs have been working in the offseason to bounce back from an unusual sub .500 2013-2014 campaign, which saw the squad finish the season with a 8-11-2 mark overall. The team was able to finish the season strong, winning 7 of their last 10 games, including victories against Florida State and Georgia Tech thanks to a strong offensive output that tallied seventeen goals.
With a larger roster comprised of twenty-seven players, including six seniors, Georgia appears to have the depth and the talent to take a significant step forward this season, a sentiment that is well received across the team.
“The team looks completely different,” explained junior forward Michael Falkenstein. “There’s definitely a lot of excitement within the squad about what we are going to be able to accomplish this year.”
This year’s talented group of players is setting their sights high, with several players stating an SEC title as an optimistic goal. In order to make it happen, though, they must first take care of the Gators, who defeated Georgia in both meetings last season.
“Florida has a good team this season,” said sophomore forward Alex Carey. “I expect it to be a really fast-paced, physical game. It will be a fun game to watch and be a part of.”
Ice Dogs head coach John Hoos was reservedly positive in his outlook for the season. “We will really see what this team can do come Sunday against the Gators. We have speed and some depth up front and some other pieces are there, but we have to be committed to team play to win. You have to make sound defense first decisions, and play disciplined but hard hockey to succeed at this level. And you have to want it more that the guy you’re battling in front of the net or in the corner.”
Georgia Ice Dawgs vs Florida, Sunday Sept 21, 1:30pm. The Classic Center Arena. Tickets are $7, $10, $15, and $25 on the glass. www.ClassicCenter.com or the Classic Center box office.
-Jordan Hill, contributing writer UGAHockey.com