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Tar Heels triumph: UNC ice hockey secures Governor's Cup with 5-3 victory

The UNC club ice hockey team celebrates after a goal scored by junior forward Thomas Gilligan (17) during the Governor's Cup game against the NC State Icepack at PNC Arena on Monday, Nov. 20, 2023.

The North Carolina men’s club ice hockey team (11-5-1) defeated N.C. State (9-9), 5-3, on Monday night to win the seventh annual Governor's Cup at PNC Arena in Raleigh, N.C.

Nearly a month ago, the Tar Heels and Ice Pack faced off in their first of four scheduled games this season. In a back-and-forth thriller, the Ice Pack scored the game-winner in overtime to defeat UNC 5-4. 

In last year’s Governor's Cup, North Carolina defeated N.C. State to win the trophy for the first time in club history. Now in the position of title defense, the Tar Heels aimed to keep the cup in Chapel Hill by defeating an Ice Pack side that was on a three-game win streak.

After a ceremonial puck drop from N.C. Governor Roy Cooper, the first period of play was an even share of attack between both sides – with the Tar Heels tallying seven shots and the Ice Pack eight.

Midway through the first period, UNC forward Tommy Gilligan’s slapshot broke the deadlock to open the scoring. With ample time and space from distance, Gilligan steered the puck into the upper corner of N.C. State’s goalframe. The shot – hammered toward the back post – was hit hard enough to pass Ice Pack goalkeeper Issac Tawyer before he could even lift his shoulder. 

Moments later, a flurry of chances from N.C. State found the game’s equalizer just three minutes before the intermission. It was Ice Pack forward, Joey Gouveia, whose crafty skating navigated him in front of UNC’s goal where he tied the match at 1-1.

Immediately following the intermission, UNC snatched the lead back in just 17 seconds. A well-timed pass from Tar Heel forward Patrick O’Shaughnessy placed the puck on a silver platter for an incoming Henry Foster. 

In one smooth motion, Foster ripped a clapper into the Ice Pack net to place the Tar Heels back in front. 

“I think at times we felt a little panicky with the puck, so I wanted to settle the guys down offensively and I said we need to play with some confidence,” Head coach Adam Dauda said. “I thought things were a lot better in the second period. I thought that was our best period overall.” 

Controlling most of the puck in the second period, UNC scored its third goal of the night off the stick of Patrick Peltola. The Tar Heels didn’t celebrate for long, however, as the Ice Pack responded in under 20 seconds. 

N.C. State forward Nick Librizzi brought the Ice Pack back within one to cap off a chippy second period. Going into the final intermission, UNC led 3-2 in a game that was beginning to get scrappy. 

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With multiple body checks and a slue of penalties, a rowdy PNC Arena was given a dramatic finish to a barnburner of a game. 

“I just told the guys that I wanted everyone to stay calm because we knew N.C. State liked to get us in their post-whistle activities,” Dauda said. “So we gotta stay even-keeled throughout and play our game.”

Desperately searching for an equalizer, the Ice Pack hounded the UNC net for over 15 minutes in the final period. Ultimately breaking through inside the final five minutes of play, N.C. State tied the game at 3-3.

With under two minutes left in the game, O’Shaughnessy scooped up the puck near mid-ice. Spearheading the break, the team’s leading goal scorer finished the 1on1 to give North Carolina the lead and close the door on an N.C. State comeback. 

“Playing in front of a crowd like this we were nervous,” O’Shaughnessy said. “Just wanted to settle into that, and I think during the second and third [periods] we really stuck to our game and came out on top.”

An open net goal in the final seconds gifted UNC the 5-3 victory and kept the Governor’s Cup in Chapel Hill. 

North Carolina will take over a month-long break from games before continuing its season in mid-January. The weekend of Jan. 12, the Tar Heels will travel north to compete against Virginia Tech in a two-game series.


@dthsports |