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The Daily Tar Heel

UNC ice hockey leans on deep lineup to secure Governor's Cup victory over N.C. State

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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.

When Adam Dauda took the helm of the UNC ice hockey team this season, his mission was to never let North Carolina become a one-man team. 

This season, Dauda could have easily relied on veteran players like senior forwards Henry Foster and Cole Kosowski and leading scorer sophomore forward Patrick O’Shaughnessy to pave the way for him. But in the few months that Dauda has donned Carolina Blue, he has made a point to develop his team down to its fourth and final line despite having strong returning starters. 

In Monday night’s thriller against N.C. State – with a red-heavy crowd matching the Canes-colored seating at PNC Arena –North Carolina took home the Governor’s Cup in a 5-3 victory. With four different scorers and complete offensive control in the second period, the Tar Heels were able to dominate a Wolfpack team that beat them only a month ago.

“All four lines were going really well,” Dauda said. “Even our fourth line chipped in with some good O-Zone pressure, and got lots of shots on net. So I think it’s crucial in big games like this you need to have depth — you can’t just rely on a couple guys.” 

With seven minutes remaining in the first period, junior forward Thomas Gilligan — who has solidified himself as one of North Carolina's top offensive weapons —opened the floodgates for a burgeoning UNC team. Following a short pass from senior forward Leighton Walsh, Gilligan skated to the center of the ice and hit a hard mid-range shot in between the legs of N.C. State’s goalkeeper. 

In the next period the second line was on display. 

During a power play opportunity, graduate forward Patrik Peltola found the dead center of the mesh on a spin move to evade an oncoming defender. 

Despite veterans like O’Shaughnessy and Foster accounting for the other three goals of the night – with one being a last-minute effort from O’Shaughnessy to make the score 4-3 – the scoreboard did not fully show the collaborative effort. 

With the exception of the first ten minutes of the game (Dauda said confidence was an issue), every pass, block and shot was backed by members of a blue-clad team designed to never lull on the ice. 

Even though the fourth line did not put a goal on the board, they helped stop a ruthless  N.C. State offense.

In particular, O’Shaughnessy shouted out the "great plays" made by junior forwards Michael Vaglia and Zach Mangeland graduate forward Chandler Kotseos.

“It came down to the last minutes so having guys throughout the lineup making plays is huge," he said.

As the 60 minutes dwindled, the stacked Tar Heel team never appeared tired.

With less than a minute remaining and down by one, N.C. State added an extra attacker and cleared the net. Even with the additional man to defend, Foster was able to win the puck battle off the wall and record another goal to make the score 5-3. All the exhausted N.C. State players could do was shake their heads. 

Foster said UNC's ability to roll four all the way to the very last whistle was "huge."

“It kind of wears teams down when they can’t lean on their entire lineup the way we can," he said. "I think that’s one of the big strikes that UNC hockey has.”

As the last seconds dwindled in the case-closed match, the Tar Heels skated to the UNC student section and hoisted the gold Governor’s Cup so that all fans could bask in the chippy rivalry win. With back-to-back Governor’s Cup victories to boast for the first time in the last seven contests, it is safe to say that Dauda's efforts to develop a deep lineup have paid off.

“We’re glad that we sent them home disappointed,” O’Shaughnessy said. 

@_emmahmoon

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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