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.