By Alexis Johnson
Before he ever strapped on a set of pads or picked up a hockey stick, Daniel Crawford dabbled in various sports throughout his childhood, stating he “played soccer, baseball, and lacrosse.”
However, once he hit the ice at the age of six, the rest was history.
It’s clear the senior economics major holds a lot of love for his sport, his school and his friends.
He says he loves the game of hockey because it’s “an all-around great sport,” though he specifically enjoys its physicality and fast pace. He also claims “the culture in hockey is something different than pretty much any other sport.”
Hailing from the Peach State, the Acworth native played youth hockey for the Atlanta Madhatters from 2019 to 2021.
He always knew he wanted to attend an SEC school and continue his hockey career at the collegiate level. However, he only “really decided” on Georgia when he started his college application process.
Now going into his fourth and final year with the Ice Dawgs, Crawford confidently says “the culture [at UGA] is different from any team [he’s] played for, including Madhatters.” He claims “all the little things add up” to make the UGA Ice Dawgs team something that many other schools strive to emulate.
On the ice, Crawford keeps it simple.
His goals within the game are to “do what [he] can in every situation” and “make sure [he] plays hard.” Though he admits this approach doesn’t make him the “flashiest player,” Crawford has certainly managed to make his mark on the Ice Dawgs program and his teammates.
Robby Witwer, Crawford’s friend, roommate and captain describes him as “a great teammate and friend—a key part of the team and a great guy to have around the locker room.”
When asked about Crawford’s accomplishments at the rink, Witwer said “Nobody is better around the net, and he has scored some huge goals for us over the years. We are lucky to have him.”
These reverent feelings are certainly mutual as Crawford attributes a lot of his success to his teammates.
“They’ve definitely pushed me to become better,” he said. “Especially here, I feel like on other teams it’s mostly on the coaches, but here [at UGA] we’re a lot more team-run.”
Living with your teammates can be an acquired taste for some, but Crawford relishes in the camaraderie and connections he’s made with his fellow Ice Dawgs while doing so. He said living with the guys is “awesome.”
“I’m just always around them and we get to have a lot of fun, while also taking hockey very seriously – They make sure I’m doing what I should be doing and push me to be the best that I can,” he said.
Many of the memories Crawford’s made during his time on the team have been rooted in these friendships, but his favorites come from games on the road and the bus trips taken to get there.
He specifically recalled their game in Buffalo, New York last year.
“That was an awesome bus trip back—was very long, but it was a ton of fun. All the guys were hanging out,” he said. “We shared some crazy stories together and had some good times.”
As he looks to finish out his senior year, Crawford is excited to make more memories of a similar caliber. He said that with the trip to Long Island, New York coming up, he expects to make even more memories with his team.
While finishing up his last season with the Ice Dawgs, he has made it a goal of his to play to the best of his ability. Like many of his teammates, he looks to win another CHS Championship ring along with adding a National Championship ring to the collection.
Though his days as an Ice Dawg are slowly coming to a close, he says his days on the ice certainly are not.
“All roads lead to men’s league,” he joked, “I could definitely see myself playing there.”
He looks forward to his future beyond hockey, with his biggest priority being simply to “land a good job,” but for now, he’s just soaking it all in while he can.
“I know in the future I’ll have teammates in the workforce and all, but nothing’s gonna compare to this,” he said. “Being in college together and just having a good time—it’s awesome.”