By Melody Baker
IRMO, SC–In their eighth game of the season, the University of Georgia Ice Dogs defeated long time Southeastern Collegiate Hockey Conference rival, the University of South Carolina, 6-4. The win was UGA’s first over USC since 2011. This game was USC’s first after three weeks of canceled games due to flooding in their area.
The matchup began with a face-off win by Georgia (5-1-1) and a hard-hitting offensive push towards South Carolina’s defensive zone. After a penalty on South Carolina (2-3) for interference, the Ice Dawgs were unable to manufacture sufficient scoring opportunities and the power play expired with no goals for UGA midway through the first period. Ten minutes of aggressive defense from the Cocks followed and was eventually broken up by a penalty called on UGA forward Lucas Warner for elbowing. The Ice Dogs’ penalty was killed by South Carolina in less than 30 seconds and was trailed by a South Carolina penalty. The period ended with a call for holding on Callan Connolly and UGA down 1-0.
USC struck and scored almost immediately to go up 2-0 early in the second period. The goal came while they were on their second power play of the game, but their momentum was quickly brought down a notch as they received two minor penalties for high sticking and roughing. Dan Fendius took advantage of the 5-on-3 power play and scored UGA’s first goal of the night rushing the puck up the left side and beating South Carolina’s goalie over his left shoulder.
The UGA offensive intensity continued to increase throughout the second period as they managed to double their shots on goal compared to the first period. The Ice Dogs evened the score with an additional goal as junior forward Ryan Bray tapped a feed assisted by sophomore Zach Flasch. South Carolina managed to end the period taking back the lead 3-2 by attacking UGA’s defense. The Gamecocks’ third goal came seconds after the Ice Dogs had successfully killed off their third penalty of the night.
The Ice Dogs broke up South Carolina’s momentum immediately with two goals in the first 5:58 of the final period: one from Eric Mauge, assisted by Ryan Bray and followed closely by yet another goal scored on a power play by Ryan Bray with assists from Dixon Babb and Alex Carey. South Carolina responded with a goal but was unable to slow UGA’s momentum. Captain Alex Carey scored what would be the game-winner with five minutes left in the game, giving the Ice Dogs a 5-4 lead. In a last ditch attempt to tie the score, South Carolina pulled their goaltender for an extra attacker in the last minutes of the game. It worked against them as the Ice Dogs were able to hunker down and kill off the proverbial 6-on-5. After Captain Alex Carey was tripped on a breakaway towards USC’s empty net, UGA was awarded a goal in the last seconds of the game. This is one of the rare situations in which a goal is awarded to a team, even if the puck has not crossed the line. Because Carey was fouled on a clear breakaway toward South Carolina’s goal, he was awarded a penalty shot. Since you cannot take a penalty shot against an empty net, a goal is awarded as a result, which made the final score 6-4 in favor of the Ice Dogs.
Following the epic come-from-behind victory Ice Dawg Captain Alex Carey spoke proudly of the game. He said that the team was ultimately happy with the outcome and getting over the hump against a conference rival.
“This one was one I had circled on the calendar. I’m glad we finally beat these guys,” Carey said. “It was a hard game, fast and physical, and a much needed win for the squad.”
The win was much needed indeed as the Ice Dogs will play their fourth of seven away games and face their biggest rival in Georgia Tech on October 23rd at The Ice in Cumming, Georgia with puck drop slated for 9:15 pm. The Ice Dogs’ next home game is November 12th against Clemson at 7:00pm in the State of the Art Akins Arena in the Classic Center, located in downtown Athens, Ga.