Every Wednesday, the UNC club hockey team walks into practice knowing what to expect.
The team only gets two hours of practice time on the ice per week and first-year head coach Adam Dauda devotes about a quarter of it to drilling special teams scenarios.
In North Carolina's 9-1 win against East Carolina University on Saturday, the Tar Heels found the back of the net three times during power plays.
This success is not random.
Last weekend, UNC beat Kentucky, 4-2, in a similar fashion, utilizing special teams on both the offensive and defensive fronts. While the Tar Heels only scored off a power play once, they also held the Wildcats to two goals during the seven penalties called against them.
With ambitions to go to their first-ever American College Hockey Association Division 2 National Championship, Dauda said that special teams has been a "very big focus" for the Tar Heels.
“Nowadays, at any level, the special teams battle usually ultimately decides who is the winner of the game because there are so many penalties in the game," Dauda said. "If you can capitalize on [it], which we've done, it pays dividends at the end of the day.”
Each of the three goals that North Carolina scored off of power play opportunities came from first-year students, with defensemen Nick Curley and Cam Glonek and forward Matt Grady all putting the puck in the mesh.
Curley's goal was his first as a Tar Heel. Following a pass across the ice from Glonek with nine minutes left in the second period, he attacked the net from the left and shot it between the posts, taking advantage of a Pirates team that was down a man.