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Title on ice
Forsyth team claims state hockey championship
Members of the Forsyth Ice pose for a photo after winning the state championship at the IceForum in Duluth. - photo by Submitted
The sport is still growing, but Forsyth County has already grown into a comfortable role in the high school ice hockey world — state champion.

On March 22, the Forsyth Ice — a team made up of players from each of the county’s public high schools, and some private schoolers from Fulton County — came from behind to top Walton 4-3 in the Division AAA state championship at the IceForum in Duluth.

The Ice compete in the Georgia Student Hockey League, which has three divisions consisting of eight teams each, most from the Atlanta area.

The Forsyth team went 11-3 in the regular season to finish in first place, before winning it all. The Ice survived a sudden death shootout against North Gwinnett earlier in the playoffs, allowing them to survive and eventually advance to the final game against Walton, who were the defending state champs.

Pat Ferguson, a local travel hockey coach, assembled the team two years ago. The plan was originally to revive a South Forsyth hockey program which had previously competed in the league.

After realizing that the county’s talent was more spread-out in the sport, Ferguson got permission to pool it all into a unified Forsyth County squad. The Ice finished third in the division a year ago, the team’s first season.

This year, so many players came out that Forsyth was able to put two teams on the rink, the AAA Ice and a Division A team, which Ferguson describes as a kind of junior varsity club.

As the favorite to win their division from the beginning, Ferguson said his players responded well to expectations.

“I think there was a little bit of pressure. I think they did shrug it off. Mostly they were having fun with the league,” he said.

The closeness of the team’s last few games allowed the players to demonstrate some grit, particularly in shaking off a 3-1 deficit in the final game against Walton.

“It was really great to see them respond. That showed me a lot of character with the boys, that they could come back and win that way,” Ferguson said.

James Ryerse scored two goals in the final game, while Forsyth goalie Caleb Voelkel won the league Governor’s Award for his 1.91 goals against average in the regular season.

Still, Ferguson says the team wasn’t focused around any individual player, and that he never even appointed a captain.

“I think our team’s chemistry was more about a team than having any particular individual stand out,” he said.

After the win, Ferguson said he was asked to summon his captains to the podium, before telling league officials he didn’t have any.

“All the boys came to get the trophy, which was great for me.”

E-mail BJ Corbitt at