Ice Dawgs go 2-1 in Nationals Pool Play

By Alexis Johnson

Wednesday, March 6: Cortland University

The University of Georgia Ice Dawgs began their AAUCH Nationals rout with a productive first period against the Cortland University Red Dragons. 

The Dawgs outscored the Dragons nearly 2-1 in period shots-on-goal, but pucks struggled to find the back of the net.

A goal from Evan Parente, assisted by Declan Conway put Georgia on the board, but Cortland tied the game 1-1 soon after with only two and half minutes left in the first leg. 

The Dragons went on to claim their first, and only lead of the game with a goal in the final seconds. The Ice Dawgs headed to the locker room with the score at 2-1.

The Red Dragons picked up the intensity in the second to extend their lead to two in the period’s early minutes. Nonetheless, Parente cashed in his second of the day with an assist by Conway and Lleyton Poole to bring some life back to the Georgia offense and make it a one point game. 

Ryan Bailey scored two huge unanswered goals, one capitalizing on a breakaway to tie the game 3-3, and another to go-ahead off assists from Bill Martin and Truman Haugen. 

Despite Cortland’s efforts to fill the gap in shots-on-goal, the Ice Dawgs officially sealed the deal in the second half of the third with a goal from Haugen assisted by Dylan Spicer. Georgia concluded their first day of Nationals play with a 5-3 win.  

Thursday, March 7: University of Delaware

The Ice Dawgs faced off against the University of Delaware Blue Hens in their second day of Nationals pool play, and to say they dominated would be an understatement. 

Conway wasted no time in opening up the scoring for the day off assists from Poole and Alexander Strauss, and the goals just kept on coming.

Halfway into the period, Georgia extended their lead with a rocket from the blue line off the stick of Haugen assisted by David Eberly and Martin.

Four minutes later a puck from Parente, assisted by Jack Gannon and Conway, found the back of the net to continue the Ice Dawg goal streak and extend their lead to 3-0.

Bailey followed suit quickly after with a snipe from Josh Mesaros.

The Ice Dawgs rounded out the first period of gameplay with a goal from rookie James Hedquist assisted by Parente and Strauss in the period’s final minutes. Georgia outscored Delaware 22-2 in shots-on-goal, the score 5-0 going into the second.

Despite a goalie change for the Blue Hens to start the new period, the Ice Dawgs maintained their offensive dominance.

Team captain Robby Witwer tapped in the period’s only goal off a rebound from linemates Daniel Barto and Dylan Spicer.

Georgia’s goal streak remained unanswered and the Dawgs headed into the intermission with a definitive 6-0 lead. 

Dylan Punzenberger kept the momentum going in the game’s last leg with a goal assisted by Bailey. Less than a minute later, Mesaros picked the pocket of Delaware’s #10 Shane Brennan to push the Ice Dawgs even further ahead (8-0).

With less than ten minutes left in the game and a clear victory on the horizon, Georgia made the decision to replace goaltender Nick Newbold with newcomer Isaac Haugen. The sophomore rookie has been out due to injury since the beginning of the season.

Hedquist wrapped up the day’s scoring with his second goal of the game, leaving only five minutes on the clock. The Ice Dawgs silenced the Delaware Blue Hens in game two with a 9-0 blow out.  

Friday, March 8: University of Tampa

Georgia’s third day of Nationals pool play brought with it arguably the most highly anticipated game of the week—a rematch with the University of Tampa Spartans. The two teams last met in the College Hockey South conference championship game where Tampa won 7-1.

Capitalizing on their third shot of the day, the Spartans struck first blood seven minutes into the game, but the Ice Dawgs fended off Tampa’s pressure to tie up shots-on-goal in the latter half.

First period play was extremely fast paced and physical, but no penalties were called, the Ice Dawgs concluded the first twenty minutes trailing 1-0.

The Dawgs tied it up 1-1 halfway into the second period with a goal from Hedquist off an assist from Conway. With the score evened up, Georgia gained some offensive momentum, but pucks just couldn’t seem to find the back of the net. 

Only a minute after the game tying goal, the Spartans worked one in to reclaim their lead, 2-1. The Ice Dawgs survived the back half of the period to find themselves in a similar situation to the period prior—down one.

Third period play kicked off with great energy for the Ice Dawgs and a lot more time spent in their offensive zone. Three minutes in, Conway secured his second point of the night with an unassisted goal to tie the tally at 2-2.

The Dawgs maintained the intensity following their second goal of the game and staved off the Spartan offense for the majority of the last period, but Tampa eventually prevailed. The Spartans scored the go-ahead late in the third—their 30th shot of the night—leaving only five minutes for the Ice Dawgs to retaliate.

By the time the final buzzer sounded, Georgia had flipped the shots-on-goal tally in their favor, but ultimately fell short in getting numbers on the board. The Spartans defeated the Ice Dawgs 3-2. 

Georgia concluded their Nationals run with a 2-1 record.



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