By: Maddie Jackson
In hard fought, physical battle, the University of Georgia Ice Dogs were unable to prevail against Southeastern Collegiate Hockey Conference rival Florida, falling 6-4 in front of over 900 fans at Akins Arena.
Michael Falkenstein and Eric Mauge gave the Ice Dogs an early 1-0 lead 1:13 into the game. Florida was able to answer separate one goal deficits twice during the opening 20 minutes. Junior Mike Pearson added a second tally for the Dogs giving them their second one-goal lead of the game. The Gators would answer in the waning moments to send the teams into the first intermission tied at two goals apiece.
The back-and-forth battles continued, displaying the intense rivalry between the two teams. Georgia would retake the lead, scoring 1:14 into the second stanza on the power play as the Ice Dogs’ man advantage carried over from a Florida penalty late in first period. Junior Ryan Bray put home a rebound from sophomore Alex Carey’s point shot on the power play. The goal was Bray’s first of two goal in the contest.
Two Florida penalties at 6:14, was the start of what would be seven combined penalties of the period between the two squads.
After failing to score on a 5-on-3, the Ice Dogs own penalties in this period proved damaging. Florida would capitalize twice, including once on the power play in the final half of the second period. The go ahead goal was a bouncing puck from the point that just snuck past starting goalie Andrew Bray, putting the Gators ahead 4-3 with just over six minutes to go in the second period.
The Ice Dogs would start the third period without their starting netminder as an undisclosed injury forced Andrew Bray to the locker room and backup goalie, Grant Schwartz to see his first action of the season.
After a scoreless first 10 minutes in the third period, Florida was able to slip one by Schwartz on a 5-on-3 power play, after the junior netminder had fought off a flurry of Gator shots to begin the period.
The Ice Dogs came within one goal with 3:28 to play as Ryan Bray found the top left corner off a feed up ice from Carey, cutting their deficit to 5-4.
Florida would put their lead back to two for good after scoring their third power play goal of the evening, this one coming with two Ice Dogs in the box and 1:30 left in the game. In the waning moments, the Ice Dogs would pull Schwartz for the extra attacker, putting a flurry of shots on the Gator net, but Florida goalie Fred Bourret would close the door on any further Georgia comeback.
The Ice Dogs next head to Clemson on September 25th for their first away game of the season at the ICE in Cumming, Georgia at 9:00 p.m. The Akins Arena at the Classic Center will be rocking once again October 1st when the Ice Dawgs come back to face Kennesaw State at 7:00 P.M.
For more information about the Ice Dogs, be sure to check back to UGAHockey.com for further updates and stay up to date with the fastest and coolest game in Athens! Fans interested in purchasing tickets can check out ClassicCenter.com or head to the Classic Center Box Office located at 300 North Thomas Street in downtown Athens.