By Alexis Johnson
The University of Georgia Ice Dawgs traveled to Gas South Arena Sunday afternoon to compete in a high scoring installment of the classic “clean old fashioned hate” rivalry game against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.
This in-state matchup was the precursor of the ECHL Atlanta Gladiator’s matchup against the South Carolina Stingrays.
The Ice Dawgs made lightwork of the of the Yellow Jackets in the first period, scoring four unanswered goals in 20 minutes.
Assistant captain Josh Mesaros drew first blood seven minutes into the game with a rebound goal off a shot from Truman Haugen. Adam Hagerman picked up the secondary assist on the play.
Declan Conway quickly followed suit, cashing in his first point of the day with a one-timer assisted by James Hedquist and assistant captain Jack Gannon. Georgia Tech’s score remained zero.
The second half of first period play proved just as lucrative for the Dawgs as a wrist shot by assistant captain Sam Adler, assisted by David Eberly, found its way to the back of the net.
With just 25 seconds left in the period, Luke Burnett scored a rebound off Eberly’s second assist of the day.
The Ice Dawgs entered the first intermission with a decisive 4-0 lead over the Yellow Jackets.
Following the start of the second, the Ice Dawgs wasted no time in getting back to work. Adler capitalized on the first power play of the day with assists from Burnett and Haugen, marking all three players’ second point of the game and bringing the score to 5-0.
“We always get up for big games,” Adler said about the Ice Dawgs’ dominance, “Regardless of the lopsided score lines, we always bring it against Georgia Tech and today was no different. It’s a great rivalry and everyone was firing.”
Evan Parente extended the lead to six with an assist from Conway, who picked up his second point of the game.
Though this period of play did present more opportunities for the Yellow Jackets than the first, Ice Dawgs’ goaltender Ryan Testino kept their score null as the game headed into its final period.
And If you thought the Dawgs might show mercy in the third, you were wrong.
Assisted by Owen Leland and Haugen, Dylan Punzenburger poked in his first of the day at the halfway mark, raising the score to 7-0.
The onslaught continued with a power play goal from Lleyton Poole, assisted by Conway and Parente, followed by a snipe from Hedquist, assisted by Conway. Conway had a team high four points on the day.
Tensions were high as the rivalry matchup came to a close, with the University of Georgia Ice Dawgs silencing the Yellow Jackets with a 9-0 shut-out.
“It was awesome! Such a great feeling to win big against a rival like Tech,” said Testino, when asked about his performance. “I gotta give credit to all the guys for keeping the puck in the other zone most of the game. That win is huge for our momentum going into the bye weekend as we have two big games against Tennessee the following week.”
Georgia and Georgia Tech will meet again at the Savannah Hockey Classic in January, but like Testino said, the Dawgs have their sights set on the upcoming road series against the Volunteers.
“I think it all goes back to not being complacent,” said Ice Dawgs team captain Robby Witwer about maintaining their momentum heading into the bye week. “Every game is a stepping stone towards the playoffs. We want to get better every time we play. We will enjoy this for a couple days, and turn our focus to two tough away games in Tennessee. Definitely want to go into Thanksgiving break on the right note.”
Next up the Ice Dawgs hit the road and travel to Knoxville, Tennessee to take on the Tennessee Volunteers on Friday Nov. 17 and Sunday Nov. 19 at the Knoxville Coliseum Center.