The UGA Ice Dawgs celebrate after #18 Michael Falkenstein scores the game winner in OT against FSU.
By: Haley Hodoval
Athens – After a disheartening 5-3 loss Friday night to the Florida State Seminoles that ended their five game win streak, the University of Georgia Ice Dawgs rallied to defeat FSU in overtime on Saturday at the Classic Center. Starting goaltender, Kevin Smith, expressed his feelings about their thrilling win, “Today meant a lot because our fans were so into the game and their excitement rubbed off on us.” UGA’s Michael Falkenstein was the first star of the game after his electrifying overtime goal sealed the deal for the Ice Dawgs.
The Seminoles and Ice Dawgs opened the game with a fast tempo and physical play, definitely UGA’s most evenly matched foe to date. The Ice Dawgs’ Lucas Warner was called for interference at 18:18 of the first period and FSU was able to capitalize on the power play just 18 seconds later as the Seminoles’ Robert Kaplove put one in the net with a swift wrist shot from the top of the circle assisted by Walter Stern. Florida State continued to keep pressure in the offensive zone but the Dawgs’ senior goaltender, Smith, made some impressive saves to keep the Dawgs in it. With 4:35 remaining in the first, UGA’s Warner made a beautiful pass to Eric Mauge who scored a pretty goal from the slot to knot the game 1-1 at the end of the first period.
Though UGA had the momentum heading into the second, it was FSU that struck first at 17:42 with a wrister from Justin Soukup. The Ice Dawgs continued to play aggressively and kept possession in FSU’s offensive zone, however, even after FSU’s Bailey Jorgensen was called for roughing, the Ice Dawgs were unable to benefit from their power play. After several close chances, UGA’s Alex Carey, a former North American Hockey League player, got one past FSU’s Michael Crespo to tie the game late in the second. The animosity was building amongst these two teams and with 46.3 seconds left in the period, a fight broke out in UGA’s defensive zone resulting in a disqualification for UGA defenseman Austin Shin and FSU’s Justin Soukup.
After several minutes of aggressive back-and-forth possession to begin the third period, Chicago native, Zach Flasch gave the Ice Dawgs the lead for the first time during their match-up against the Seminoles, making it 3-2 with 12:54 remaining in the third. The Ice Dawgs held off the Seminoles until FSU’s Kaplove made an impressive backhander that got by Smith tying the game 3-3. The Ice Dawgs were given a power play opportunity after FSU’s Kyle Phillips was called for boarding UGA’s Carey with 4:40 remaining. The crowd was on their feet as the Ice Dawgs tried to capitalize on their 5 on 4 power play but ultimately were unsuccessful causing the game to go into overtime.
The Classic City was fully behind the Ice Dawgs as they began their first OT game of the season with twenty seconds remaining on Phillips’ penalty. The Ice Dawgs’ power play efforts were ineffective, yet they were given a second chance when Seminoles’ captain Eric Campbell was called for a hand pass just after a faceoff in UGA’s zone. With 47.2 seconds left in the five-minute sudden death overtime, the Ice Dawgs’ Dixon Babb fed one to Michael Falkenstein who shot, scored, and won the game for the Ice Dawgs with a nifty shot that eluded the glove of FSU’s goalie for a final score of 4-3. Falkenstein shared his thoughts about their OT win saying, “Even when we were down 2-1, we put out heads down and realized we can win this. Thankfully, I got rewarded with that game-winning goal, it felt great.”
The UGA Ice Dawgs take their 6-2 record into action again on Friday, October 17 against the South Carolina Gamecocks. For ticket information go to www.classiccenter.com or call the Classic Center box office at 706-357-4444.