David Bakin is not your average Ice Dog. Besides being the only player (of record) to have traveled to all seven continents, including Antarctica, he’s by far the most outgoing.
The junior captain of the Ice Dogs has been a force to be reckoned with not only on the ice, but off the ice as well. Since joining the team in 2013, he has been one of the most recognizable players for Georgia with his exceptional talent on the rink and his outgoing personality off of it.
When Bakin accompanied his teammates to Backus Children’s Hospital at Memorial Health University Medical Center in January of 2014 during the Ice Dogs’ annual visit to Savannah, Georgia for the Savannah Tire Hockey Classic, he met Austin. At the time, Austin was undergoing treatment for a cancer in his thigh. Upon meeting each other, Bakin and Austin became instant friends, sharing laughs and jokes as Austin’s spirits were uplifted that morning in the hospital.
It would not be the last time Austin and the Ice Dogs would cross paths. Even after Bakin and his teammates left the hospital, Austin and his family followed the team’s game that night versus Georgia Tech, which the Ice Dogs won 9-3. The team stayed in contact with Austin and his family, keeping updated of his status as he progressed through treatment.
A year later, a now cancer-free Austin was the special guest and honorary team captain for his favorite college hockey team as they played in the 2015 Savannah Tire Hockey Classic, the 17th annual installment of the tournament. Getting to see his favorite fan provided not only himself, but the entire team something more to play for, according to Bakin.
“My effort this weekend was 110 percent for Austin,” Bakin said. “He was the inspiration for the team the entire tournament. Even though he is younger than us, we still look up to him. He’s been such an influential person [for the team]. His positivity is contagious and it felt like the entire team was playing not just for ourselves, but for Austin.”
Following the Ice Dogs’ 5-4 heart-breaking loss to Georgia Tech on Saturday, Bakin was named the Player of the Game for Georgia. He didn’t rush back to the locker room after the postgame ceremony though. Instead he found his number one fan, Austin. What came next was something few, if any, would do – he gave Austin his Player of the Game award.
When asked for the reasoning of the gesture, Bakin said he wouldn’t have given it to anyone else.
“He’s so young and has been through so much,” Bakin said. “Austin deserved it because he is one of the many reasons why this team is as motivated as we are.”