By GABE RAM
Since the departure of the state’s professional hockey team, the Atlanta Thrashers, some Georgia hockey fans have struggled to find a team to champion. The Georgia Ice Dogs, a club hockey team, hope to fill that gap and add to the hockey culture of the South.
“Georgia has had a hockey program for 25 years now, but no one really knows about it” Georgia head coach John Hoos said.
Part of their plan has been an extremely aggressive advertising and marketing strategy, with the intention to interact and engage with fans.
“We have ads with 960 A.M. the Ref, that air on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, along with several other things this season,” Hoos told his players during a preseason meeting on Thursday night. “We are also doing something that no hockey team has ever done before; we are participating in [UGA] Picture day. All the other varsity sports will be there, we are the only non-varsity sport that will be there.”
Going into his 13th season as head coach, Hoos has adopted the marketing approach to generating interest and publicity. The players though are just excited to take the ice again for another season.
“I am excited every time I take the ice,” senior right-winger Henry Oddi said. “Whether I am skating, hitting someone or shooting the puck, it’s all exciting and a lot of fun.”
One way Coach Hoos motivated his players for the upcoming season was to schedule a match against an in-conference rival — Auburn.
“Our rivalries are just as competitive on the ice as they are off the ice, in the football and basketball programs,” Hoos said. “We have a great program with a great group of guys that are professional, but extremely competitive and want to win. They are excited for the start of the season and we can’t wait to take the ice for the first time.”