A strong third period performance led by none other than Sam Banasiewicz propelled the IcePack to a 6-0 win over the UNCW Seahawks. Up by two goals after the first two periods, Banasiewicz extended the IcePack lead to 3-0 about midway the 3rd frame, as he took a fantastic feed from Blake Jadallah in the neutral zone, and made a power move around the Seahawk defense before tucking it home on his forehand. This was Banasiewicz’s first of 3 goals in the game, all coming in the 3rd period.
The IcePack came out of the gate strong, controlling much of the game’s first 10 minutes, however they missed a couple of scoring chances in close on shots that went wide of the net. NC State would continue to generate opportunities further into the opening frame, with Seahawk netminder Ryan Besemer making some key stops through traffic. Later on in the period, IcePack goaltender Joey Hall, who was largely untested so far, had trouble covering a puck just outside of the crease nearly leading to a goal for Wilmington, however the loose puck was ultimately taken care of by the NC State defense. Moments later, Trevor Merchant backhands a shot bar down from the low slot with 2:17 left in the first period, and NC State finally broke through for a 1-0 lead. The IcePack did a good job establishing the cycle in the offensive zone, and were able to generate some good rebound opportunities during the first period, which concluded with a 1-0 lead for NC State.
Right out of the gate for period #2, the IcePack’s own Ian O’Rourke made a phenomenal move to sidestep a Seahawk defenseman only 40 seconds in, as Wilmington was somehow able to take care of the loose change with no harm done on the scoreboard. NC State would keep up the pressure, cycling the puck in the Seahawk zone throughout the early stages of the second frame. After having trouble moving the puck out of their end and up the ice, Wilmington would end up taking a defensive zone penalty, sending the IcePack to the power play for the second time of the game. NC State generated a couple of chances early on in the man advantage, and eventually Freshman sensation Riley Johnson was able to hammer home a one-timer from an unlikely angle with 4 seconds left in power play off of a phenomenal pass from Alex Robinson, doubling their lead. About half way through the middle frame, the IcePack’s Alex Vedetta was whistled for an offensive zone penalty, sending the Seahawks to a power play of their own. The Wilmington man-advantage was able to get a few pucks through traffic, with Joey Hall doing a great job of tracking the puck to preserve the two-score lead. Hall would then make an amazing save later on in the same penalty kill, getting a piece of a hard wrister from the dead slot with his glove, and the IcePack were able to complete the kill. NC State was unable find twine in the dwindling moments of the second period despite a heavy offensive zone forecheck, as they would head into the third and final period up by a score of 2-0.
Wilmington’s Backus wheels one to the outside early on in the third but was unable to put the puck past Joey Hall on his backhand, and the Seahawk’s deficit remained two goals. The IcePack were able to get back on the attack shortly following Wilmington’s scoring chance, and Besemer, who had seen a plethora of low shots through periods 1 and 2, had his blocker tested for the first time as he was able to make the acrobatic save on a quick shot labeled high far side. NC State would then take yet another offensive zone penalty, as Devin Halko was whistled for cross-checking just over 4 minutes into the 3rd period. After killing off the Wilmington power play, this one seeming significantly less potent than the previous man-advantage, the IcePack were able to feed off of the momentum of the penalty kill, as Sam Banasiewicz scored his first of the night en route to the natural hat trick. Just seconds later in the third period, Banasiewicz was in the right place at the right time as he finds the loose change in the slot and buries it for a 4-0 IcePack lead. With the NC State starting to pull away in the late stages, the game began getting chippy, with multiple players on each side taking a run at the opposition, ultimately leading to the IcePack’s 3rd power play of the game. Despite the successful penalty kill, Wilmingotn would still find themselves facing a 4 goal deficit with under 10 minutes remaining in the game. Unfortunately for the Seahawks, there was still damage left to be done, with Sam Banasiewicz tallying his third and final goal of the period on an odd-man rush, putting NC State up 5-0. Blake Jadallah then took the puck off of a clean offensive zone faceoff win and ripped a quick wrist shot five hole on Besemer to extend the lead to 6 with 4:18 remaining.
The IcePack would take the victory over Wilmington in this one by a score of 6-0 in from of a raucous crowd at the Raleigh IcePlex. While he was not tested very often, netminder Joey Hall earned his first shutout of the season for NC State, who used a huge offensive outing in the third period lead, of course, by Sam Banasiewicz. The IcePack, who improved to 7-0 on the year following tonight’s win, will host rival UNC-CH on Monday evening at PNC Arena for the Backyard Brawl.