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The Daily Tar Heel

North Carolina club ice hockey team falls to UNCW, 7-4

UNC first-year defenseman Nick Curley (20) drives the puck away from the goal during the men’s ice hockey game against UNC Wilmington at the Orange County SportsPlex on Friday, Oct. 13, 2023. UNC fell to UNCW 4-7.

The UNC club ice hockey team lost to the UNCW Seahawks, 7-4, in its first division matchup of the season at the Orange County Sportsplex on Friday night.

Unlike their other two meetings with UNCW last season, the Tar Heels did not start off strong. For the first time this regular season, the UNC hockey team found itself down in the first minute of the game. 

“Puck luck didn’t go our way on a couple of bounces, didn’t come out hard enough, guys were trying to play too much offense and not enough defense and hung onto nothing,” team captain senior Henry Foster said. “Nothing particular was especially bad, but everything was a little bad.” 

It kept going downhill from there for the Tar Heels. The speedy Seahawks sliced through the ineffective Tar Heel defense and spent most of the period down on the UNC half of the centerline. 

The normally poised Tar Heels struggled in transition — six shots on goal and seven turnovers in the first period — and were not able to move the puck out of the neutral zone resulting in the Seahawks adding two additional scores in the first period.

“We couldn’t really get the legs moving and we weren’t, we weren’t clicking, we weren’t doing the right thing,” sophomore defenseman Floran Zajic said. “Maybe we were trying to overdo it a little bit instead of keeping it simple and that cost us and carried over.”

After the first-period struggles the Tar Heels came out of intermission and put up their first goal, a chip-in by junior Thomas Gilligan, to bring the score within two. The Tar Heels controlled the first five minutes of the second period occupying UNCW's zone, but fell apart and let the Seahawks score on a failed line transition. 

Zajic was able to keep the Tar Heels in the game with a slapshot goal with seven minutes left on a UNCW power play. 

A bright spot for UNC was its defensive ability to stop the aggressive Seahawk attack when playing down two men to UNCW’s full line. However, the effort was for naught as the Seahawks were able to score two more in the final minutes of the second period.

We weren’t focused on (the middle) like we needed to be, and it’s just one of those things that's easier to play on the outside than in the middle,” Foster said. “But, that’s where you win a hockey game in the middle, so you just got to be a little gritter, a little more hard-nosed.”

After a goalie change heading into the final period, the Seahawks and Tar Heels traded goals, yet UNC remained down throughout the entire period. Senior Willis Kendrick-Holmes and sophomore Patrick O’Shaughnessy cut the UNCW lead down, but the 3-goal deficit was too much for the Tar Heels to overcome. 


@dthsports |

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