Ice 'Cocks hit third loss, Georgia nets 9

Carolina's defensive struggles continued Friday night as Georgia handed the Gamecocks their third consecutive loss in a 9-3 decision at the Ice Plex in Irmo.

After a quick start, the Gamecocks' offense was absent for the final two periods, while the Ice Dawgs scored eight unanswered goals en route to their first win of the season. With a loss in their first South Eastern Collegiate Hockey Conference contest of the season, the Gamecocks drop to 1-4-0-0 and still have not defeated Georgia since October 2014.

The Gamecocks took a quick 2-0 lead with goals 30 seconds apart from Jacob Tengi and Blake Drummond. Caleb Santa Maria scored his third goal of the year to cut the lead in half less than two minutes later, but Carolina struck again just after the halfway mark of the first period.

With Georgia’s Drew Holcombe serving a slashing penalty, Ian Schneider scored to extend the lead back to two. The goal was Schneider’s fourth on the power play this season.

Two minutes after Schneider made it 3-1, Tengi took a tripping minor to give the Ice Dawgs a 5-on-3 advantage with just under six minutes left in the period. Jack Watson’s tripping penalty expired soon after, but leading scorer Carter Penzien beat Lombardi to put Georgia within one once again at the 5:20 mark before the first intermission.

Disaster struck for the Gamecocks with just 4.6 seconds left in the period. Georgia’s David Spielberger tipped in a pass from Austin Krusko to send the Ice Dawgs into the dressing room tied 3-3 after being down 2-0 only 3:48 into the game.

The Ice Dawgs' offense continued rolling in the second, scoring three unanswered goals, including Penzien’s second of the game and a short-handed goal from Chris Santa Maria.

On the latter play, Aaron Phillips cleared the puck from deep in his own zone to find Santa Maria at the red line. With no one left to beat, Santa Maria skated in uncontested before faking out Lombardi and giving Georgia a 5-3 lead.

In the third, Carolina coach Allan Sirois inserted Jared Ward to replace Lombardi with 12:46 remaining after Georgia's Alex Carey made it 8-3. 

Neither team shied away from physical play throughout the evening, and tensions finally boiled over with 5:58 to play when a skirmish broke out near center ice involving Tengi and Schneider. Tengi and Chris Santa Maria took coincidental slashing penalties, while Schneider received two for roughing and took the rest of the night off with a ten minute misconduct.

Penzien completed a hat trick 69 seconds later for Georgia's ninth and final tally.

"We were playing well at the beginning, I just think they took it for granted, they thought these guys, because they started so slow, it would be really easy, and it's not," Sirois said. "We knew that even though they lost a bunch of guys, and after that, well, you saw what happened."

On Lombardi, Sirois said he didn't believe the lopsided score reflected his goaltender's performance.

"None of this is his fault," Sirois said. "I don't think he played bad at all, these stats are just bad for him, and that's why I pulled him, 'cause I thought we needed to stop the bleeding."

Carolina also took on The Citadel in North Charleston on Sunday. No score was available at press time.



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