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UNC ice hockey falls to N.C. State Ice Pack, 6-2, ending Tar Heels' 10-game win streak

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UNC sophomore forward Carson Rein (95) and UNC graduate forward Chandler Kotseos (98) drive towards the puck in the Monday, Feb. 5, 2024 game against NC State in PNC Arena. UNC lost with a score of 6-2.

The UNC men’s ice hockey team (18-6-1) fell to the N.C. State Ice Pack (17-13), 6-2, on Monday night at PNC Arena during the Carolina Classic — ending North Carolina's 10-game win streak.

In the opening minutes of the first period, N.C. State drew first blood through a series of aggressive attacks. At the 17-minute mark, the Ice Pack took advantage of a power play opportunity by crowding the net after UNC’s sophomore goalkeeper Lucas Brown lost the puck. With Brown unable to regain control, N.C. State’s Garrett Auriene recovered the puck on the right side of the net and found the back of the mesh. 

Although the Tar Heels attempted to find the equalizer, they were never able to score in the remainder of the first period even with three different power play opportunities. With a little over four minutes remaining in the period, UNC had the advantage on 5-3 play due to two N.C. State penalties within a minute of each other. Still, the Tar Heels were unable to break into the offensive zone and the first period ended with N.C. State up 1-0. 

“They did a really good job of protecting the middle of the ice and their [defensive] zone,” head coach Adam Dauda said. “It was tough to get through to that.”

In the second period, the first six minutes proved to be a back-and-forth contest. However, N.C. State struck once again. With Brown slow to get back to the net, N.C. State’s Holden Koufman snuck around the backside of the net and tapped it in. Using the momentum, the Wolfpack continued its hot streak with another goal a little over a minute later from Auriene once again. Halfway through the second period, the Wolfpack secured a 3-0 lead. 

Auriene refused to relent. With a little over six minutes remaining in the second period, the forward secured a hat trick and extended the Wolfpack’s lead to four. To generate some momentum, senior forward Leighton Walsh responded with a goal to put the Tar Heels on the board. However, a series of penalties quickly dashed North Carolina's comeback hopes. The second period ended with the Ice Pack up 4-1. 

“We were trying to change up our game plan and go up the weak side to get it out easier [and] use the glass,” Dauda said. “They did a really good job and I think eventually we adjusted but it took us a little while to get there.”

A little over two minutes into the third period, the Wolfpack returned to the ice with the same intensity. After getting past first-year defender Cam Glonek, N.C. State’s Nick Shook won the one-on-one battle against Brown. Although the Tar Heels were able to score another goal with the help of first-year forward Daniel Kauber, they were too far gone. The Wolfpack put the final nail in the coffin with a final goal to conclude the team’s dominant offensive effort. North Carolina lost 6-2.

This game concludes the Tar Heels’ regular season. Next, they will move into the ACHA postseason. 

“[Our] goals are to win as many games as possible so our season doesn’t end," Dauda said, "But we set ourselves up really well that we are ranked high enough where we should be able to get to regionals after our playoffs."

@_emmahmoon

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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