The University of Georgia hockey team had their first homestand of the season this weekend resulting in two wins. On Friday night, the Ice Dawgs defeated Ole Miss 4-3 in a rematch of the 2019 Southeastern Collegiate Hockey Conference Championship. The Ice Dawgs returned to Akins Ford Arena again on Sunday afternoon and defeated Coastal Carolina 5-4.
In Georgia’s home opener, Ole Miss scored three unanswered goals in the first period, but after the intermission the Ice Dawgs took control of the game. Everyone was involved as four different players scored for the Ice Dawgs.
“I think the nerves at the beginning with the crowd, we’ve got a lot of new players that haven’t been in that atmosphere, I think it took a little while to get their legs under them,” head coach Rick Emmett said.
The nerves did not last long for the Ice Dawgs as Caleb Santa Maria scored the first goal of the game for Georgia early in the second period. The goal was one of three for Santa Maria on the weekend.
“Hearing the crowd [after scoring the first goal], it didn’t just get me going, but it got the whole team going,” Santa Maria said. “The sound in here just escalated everything for us.”
Matthew Bigda contributed another goal to pull the Ice Dawgs within one point with 10:02 remaining in the second period.
Austin Krusko tied the game for the Ice Dawgs with a goal early in the third period. Just minutes later, Seth Johnston beat a defender one-on-one to give Georgia their first lead of the game. The Ice Dawgs used the momentum to hold the lead for the remainder of the game, giving them their second win of the season.
“It’s still early,” Emmett said. We’re going to take away the good things of how we came out on top.”
— UGA Hockey (@UGAHockey) October 12, 2019
Georgia carried the momentum from the win into Sunday’s matchup against Coastal Carolina, which proved to be a close contest.
The Ice Dawgs jumped out to an early 2-0 lead with Caleb Santa Maria scoring two goals in the first period. However, the Chanticleers answered with two goals of their own to make it 2-2 at the end of the first period.
The second period was a back and forth battle. The Ice Dawgs started the period on a power play and took advantage of it, as Chris Keresztes found the back of the net with just a few seconds remaining on the power play. The Chanticleers scored on a power play a few minutes later to tie the game 3-3.
The Ice Dawgs had an answer for everything in the game though. Kyle Harris scored a long goal to give Georgia the lead once again before Coastal Carolina answered with their own goal to make it 4-4 heading into the final period.
Late in the game the Ice Dawgs had to battle penalties. The team finished with nine penalties to Coastal Carolina’s three, but goalie Brady Mulligan was able to make some big saves during the final period.
“I’m really more comfortable when we’re down a man, because there’s just that much more pressure on me, and it’s up to me to keep the puck out of the net when we’ve got a guy in the box,” goalie Brady Mulligan said.
The Ice Dawgs leaned on veteran leadership throughout the game, and it proved to be important down the stretch. Veteran leader Chris Keresztes scored the only goal of the third period, and his second of the game, to help the Ice Dawgs clinch the win 5-4.
— UGA Hockey (@UGAHockey) October 13, 2019
The game ended with Georgia players celebrating with Mulligan, who was nothing short of outstanding during the final period.
“The best penalty killer has to be your goalie, and [Brady Mulligan] made the saves we needed,” Emmett said.
The Ice Dawgs return home on Thursday for a game against Clemson.