By Delaney Rigdon
A familiar sight at UGA Ice Dawgs games is the player with a striking red, curly mullet that piques the curiosity of spectators.
This player is none other than Dylan Spicer, a fifth-year advertising major, originally hailing from Bethesda, Maryland, and now proudly representing UGA.
Spicer started playing hockey in seventh grade, later than most kids typically start. After playing soccer for several years, the phenomenon known as the “Ovechkin Effect” inspired him to pursue hockey.
Alexander Ovechkin, the Washington Capitals captain, is considered one of the greatest players and is one of the key figures in what motivated Spicer to chase his hockey goals.
He continued to play hockey throughout high school, also playing a year of travel hockey his senior year.
During Spicer’s final two years of high school with college started looming over the horizon, his desire to play at a collegiate level grew.
He said a key factor of the process is going on campus tours and proactively letting the coaches know that you are interested in playing, as well as bettering yourself to get ready to play a higher level of hockey.
The University of Tennessee, Clemson University, and the University of South Carolina are some of the schools he applied for, however the University of Georgia was always his first choice.
The seriousness of UGA’s hockey program is what drew him in to choosing Athens as his home away from home.
“Everyone in the program at UGA takes it so much more seriously and there’s a lot more pride in the program here,” he said. “All I remember was I wanted to be a part of it so badly.”
The team’s comradery and culture has left a positive impact on his life. Spicer has met some of his best friends at Georgia through the team.
Recently, Spicer participated in an Ironman in Augusta, Georgia. Several of his teammates traveled to support him as he swam 1.2 miles, biked 56 miles and ran a half marathon.
Because of his still healing shoulder injury, he had his hesitations going into the race.
“I was just not really sure if I could do it,” Spicer said. “I was just really nervous, but the fact that everyone came and was so supportive, I mean there was no way I wasn’t going to finish with all of them there.”
He said that having his teammates at the race to support him made him incredibly happy and thankful for the support system he has.
While the team and coaches have all had a tremendous impact on his hockey career, he acknowledges the biggest influence is from his parents.
“I was not very good when I first started, and they would go with me, wake up before school, and go with me to the rink at like 5 a.m. so I could get lessons because I wanted to be better,” he said.
Although his career as an Ice Dawg is wrapping up, he said the memories that he has gained from this experience will stick with him forever. He has been a part of countless team wins and has helped to create a strong culture on the team.
Winning the Savannah Hockey Classic and the College Hockey South championship are just two of the unforgettable highlights during his time on the team.
“I’m genuinely just going to miss everything,” he said. “Like my whole life kind of revolves around this team. Every weekend I go with the team [for games], and even when there’s not hockey, I still hang out with the team.”
Spicer said that the past few years have been some of the best years of his life.
“Once I leave, it’s obviously not going to be the same,” he said. “But I know to cherish it as much as I can this year because yeah, you know, it’s special.”
After graduation, Spicer plans to pursue a career in sales and marketing at a company that he supports. He says he loves, and is good at talking to people, and enjoys the competitiveness of sales.
While he doesn’t plan on playing hockey in the future, he says he will be keeping busy by “signing up for every league that he can.” His love of sports is something that he hopes never goes away.
“Looking back, I’m just really really grateful for all the things in life, like because I’ve genuinely just had the best time with this team the last five years,” Spicer said. “You know, I’m gonna be really sad once I leave but I know the people won’t go away, and I’m really grateful that the team has given me that.”