DULUTH — Ice Hockey is alive and well in Gwinnett County and throughout the state. With 14-member High School teams from the North Georgia suburbs all the way down to Columbus, the Georgia Student Hockey League has been operating for the past 21 years. The regular season ended February 9 with the ‘A’ and ‘AA’ Division playoffs starting the following week.
The ‘A’ Division has 3 Gwinnett teams – North Gwinnett, Collins Hill, and Brookwood High Schools, while the ‘AA’ Division is represented by Peachtree Ridge HS who won their division. After getting off to a slow start at the beginning of the season, our local team, the North Gwinnett HS Ice Dawgs, came together and closed out their regular season with a 10-5-1 record and a 1st place finish over eight other teams in the ‘A’ division. Although the majority of players on the North Gwinnett team attend North Gwinnett HS, they also have players from local schools without their own teams including – Lanier, Mill Creek, and Buford High Schools.
The playoff format is a seven-round, double-elimination, meaning that each team plays until they lose two games. North’s no. 1 seeding gave them a well-earned first-round bye. They started the playoffs at the Atlanta Ice Forum in Duluth with a 9-1 win over no. 6 seed, Roswell Pope HS. Under the on-ice leadership of seniors Seth Cohen, Carter Rickwood, and Trevor Tremblay – the team took a combined 44 shots with goals from Amanda Spreadbury, Tremblay, Nick James, Tyler Casey (2), Rickwood, Alex Kostun, John Vasilco, and Alexis Oukes. Assists came from Kostun, Casey (2), Bradley Burton (2), James, Camden Schutt, Spreadbury (2), and Tremblay (2). Roswell Pope’s sole goal came from Andrew Mullen with an assist from John Dukat. The Ice Dawgs received some strong support in the net from goaltenders Diego Velez and Tyler Smorch who stopped a combined 19 shots on goal.
Going into the game, head coach Rob Spreadbury and assistant coach, John Wilson, told the team to “have fun, play hard, and be hockey tough.” Hockey Tough means having the desire, drive, and dedication; it means being smart, alert, and positive; it means being determined, committed, and in control.
As North Gwinnett advances to the 3rd round of the playoffs, their next opponent is the no. 3 seed Columbus Cottonmouths on Sunday, March 1 at 5:40 p.m. in Duluth. During the regular season the Ice Dawgs split their series with Columbus and have a 1-1 record.
— By Marc Cohen
Photo credit: Traci Dickson