RALEIGH – Saturday night’s game marked the official opening of the NC State Wolfpack’s ACCHL season with a game against Wake Forest. The game started at 8:15PM and lasted until almost 11PM, and was entertaining from start to finish. While the first period was rough for the Pack, we managed to pull ahead with 2 goals at the start of the second period and it only went up from there.
During the first period, it was obvious the Pack hadn’t played a regulation game together since the Championship game last season. The teamwork was subpar, and at one point one player stole the puck from another while the first was winding up for a shot on goal. There was a lot of stumbling over each other, and the only saving grace for the team was the amazing work from the goalie, catching several shots midair and stopping several others, only letting in one goal. The period could be summarized by one particular incident: there was a point in the game where there were three or four players from each team just sitting in front of the NC State goal, almost as though they were getting ready to take a nap. There were also moments where one or more players were just standing around and doing nothing. The period ended with a score of 1-0 in favor of Wake Forest, as well as with many frustrated NC State fans.
The second period started with a fire the team hadn’t brought to the previous period. Within a few minutes, two back-to- back goals were scored by NC State, which brought them into the lead they held for the rest of the night. The fans were invigorated and brought a new life to the game, cheering whenever a good play was carried out and beating on the glass when the refs made a bad call. State took several penalties throughout the period, but this did nothing to take away the lead. The period ended with NC State ahead 5-1 against Wake Forest, and with Wake Forest not having made any goals since the beginning of the first.
As the third and final period started, spirits were high and the crowd was ready to celebrate the first win of the season. Wake Forest scored two more goals, one of which in a power play, but they couldn’t overcome the lead NC State had cemented in the previous period. Third period saw many more penalties for NC State, sometimes creating a 5-against- 3 opportunity for Wake Forest, and one of which gave Wake Forest their power play goal. With 1:30 left in the final period, Wake Forest called a timeout and decided to pull their goalie to try and close the score gap of 5-3 and gain the final two points needed to go to overtime. Pulling their goalie was a mistake though, as it allowed NC State one final goal with only 17 seconds left in the period, bringing the final score to 6-3 in favor of the Pack.
Overall, this game marked a strong start to the Pack’s 2017-2018 hockey season, and showed a lot of promise in the goalkeeping front. I feel that with more work on teamwork to create a more cohesive team, this group has a very strong chance of finally winning the ACCHL Championships come spring. Make sure to catch the NCSU Club Hockey Team at their next home game on October 6 versus Virginia Tech at Raleigh IcePlex.