Jackets Push For Regionals with 2nd Straight ACC-South Title (7-2 & 9-1)

With just two weeks left in the regular season, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets saw the most important weekend of their season sitting in front of them. The #13 Clemson Tigers and #10 Florida State Seminoles were in town to compete for the ACC-South Challenge title. Not only was this weekend important for the tournament, but it also held huge repercussions for the seeding going into the ACHA DIII South Regional Tournament.

The Friday night showdown featured Clemson and the Jackets. In a tight first period, Tech was able to find it scoring touch from Karl Risley #12 and Tom Petrick #7. Even with the offensive pressure, several defensive breakdowns led to Clemson capitalizations. The first frame ended in a 2-2 tie.

The second period was all Tech as the boys were able to get goals from four separate Jacket players. Kevin Polak #25, Brandon Holt #10, Karl RIsley #12, and Michael Markwordt #3 put their offensive prowess together to up Tech’s lead to a 6-2 score going into the final period.

The 3rd period, unlike the 2nd, was a much more even battle. The Clemson Tigers wouldn’t go down without a fight. And as if the Jackets wanted to help the Tiger cause, GT went into penalty trouble essentially being on the PK for the entirety of the final period. Thanks to some solid defense and strong goaltending from Zach Cernich #31, the team was able to nullify anything and everything that Clemson threw their way. In fact, the Jackets were even able to find the back of the net once more as Matt Jones #27 jumped up on the offensive rush from his defensive position to get a tally of his own. The final score of Game 1 of the ACC-South Challenge was a decisive 7-2 win.

This win not only helped push GT closer to a second straight ACC-South Championship, but it also aided their regional bid. On the downside, the team saw the loss of forward Michael Leon #8 due to a thumb injury. Leon had some solid shifts in the first game as he was great on the offensive forecheck, leading to many turnovers. Despite the loss, the Jackets would have to prep for their Sunday showdown against FSU, a team that trailed one spot behind GT in the rankings.

Starting off in a similar fashion to Friday’s game, this game against the Noles was a back and forth battle. Much of the play was actually in front of Tech netminder, Caleb Rudnicki #30, but that wasn’t enough for the boys from North Florida to get the better of the ATL boys. The Jackets were able to turn aside numerous FSU attempts and even spring Michael Markwordt #3 for a goal, sending the teams to the locker room for the 1st intermission at a close score of 1-0.

In the 2nd period, the Jackets got back to where they left off on Friday night. Tom Petrick #7, Karl Risley #12, and Ben Lublin #11 were able to tingle the twine in the 2nd period off of a few fast breaks and many good shots. The Noles, however, were finally able to beat Rudnicki off of a rebound goal. Throughout the entire weekend, GT saw solid performances from their tenders. Both Zach Cernich #31 and Caleb Rudnick #30 kept opposing scores low and gave their team confidence on the backend with some key saves at opportune times. The 2nd period ended in the Jackets favor at a score of 4-1.

Period 3 is where the flood gates really opened. Georgia Tech was able to possess the puck in the FSU zone for a large portion of the period. With the help of several breakdowns, scoring was aplenty. Zach Gauvin #4, Karl RIsley #12 (2), Michael Brzozowski #17, and Joey Schutz #5 combined to get the Jackets 5 more goals in the 3rd to end the game with a whopping 9-1 win over #10 Florida State.

Some notable performances and duos on the weekend would certainly have to go to Michael Brzozowski #17 and Michael Markwordt #3. The two offensive linemates had perfect chemistry and seemed to know each others whereabouts as if they had telepathy. That chemistry led to a beautiful goal in the first game, a goal that wowed the coaches, fans, and all players on the bench. Also, defensemen Joey Schutz #5 and Matt Jones #27 deserve some shoutouts. Schutz, a senior captain in his final games at Tech is an outstanding defenseman and has been for years. He gives his teammates utter confidence when a rush is coming towards the Tech net. Jones, on the other hand, has made his transfer from uGA seamlessly. He is a commander of the defensive zone game in and game out. All in all, GT Hockey had a solid weekend, winning the ACC-South Challenge and solidifying a solid standing going into ACHA Decision Day on February 14th.

Please join us for our final two games of the regular season as we take on the #3 Kennesaw State Owls in a home-and-home weekend. Our first game of the weekend is on Friday, February 9th at 9:00 PM at The Kennesaw Ice Forum. Our second game, also our Senior Night, is the next night, Saturday, February 10th at 9:20 PM. Hope to see everyone at the rink!