RALEIGH – It was a big night as 6,000 fans packed the PNC Arena to watch Wolfpack Hockey take on the UNC Tar Heels in the classic rivalry matchup game. The Icepack battled long and hard and in the end, came home with the Governor’s Cup awarded to the team by Governor Roy Cooper.
The Pack started off strong, taking an early 1-0 lead. Freshman Hayden Dewey capitaled on UNC’s weak side left open with an unbelievable shot to the back of the net with 17:18 left in the first period.
Six minutes later, Tar Heels Junior Ricky Chen responded by connecting with Freshman forward John Beeson for a power play goal. Tying the game up 1-1 and electrifying the crowd’s energy headed into the second period.
UNC controlled the start of the second period with a quick goal by John Beeson, his second of the night. However, the Icepack proved they were really in it to win it. After battling for possession in the neutral zone, Senior co-captain Sam Banasiewicz finds fellow co-captain Luis Gimenez to bring the score to 2-2.
Then, after another missed opportunity by the Heels, #24 Eric Webb quickly moved the puck down the ice looking to hit #10 Eric Johnston. The pass ended up being deflected off a UNC player and bouncing into the net, giving the Pack the lead again.
After scoring two goals in a matter of seconds and a few huge saves by goalie Joey Hall, the Pack kept their momentum going. #3 Ellis Rushford took a shot to the top right corner of the net; but it was the strategic placement of Eric Webb that tipped it in and credited him with his second goal of the game. Dominating the rest of the second period, the Icepack entered the third period leading 4-2.
Feeding off the team and crowd’s energy levels, the Pack further stretched their lead to 5-2 after a shorthanded goal by Raleigh native Ryan Lenzmeier.
A few questionable penalties gave UNC a 4-on-3 advantage which eventually led to an easy goal for John Beeson, completing his hat trick, and bringing the score to 5-3.
With 3 minutes left in the game, the Tar Heels pulled their goalie in a last-ditch effort to comeback from down 2 goals. However, in the end, State proved to be the better team coming out on top with a score of 5-3 and clinching a spot in ACCHL Tournament.
The Icepack will have a little break in their schedule, but will be back on the ice on January 12th to take on Delaware at home.