After playing in one of the greatest spectacles in ACHA history just mere days ago, the Icepack now looks to redirect their focus to a bigger task ahead. The upcoming weekend marks the ACHA South Regionals, a single-elimination tournament in Springfield, Virginia in which the two teams left standing on Sunday will each receive a bid to the 2023 National Tournament. The schedule was recently released for which teams will play on Friday in the opening games, and I bet you can’t guess who the Icepack drew in their first matchup…
That’s right, the UNC Tar Heels. What’re the odds? Game 6 is normally a phrase you hear in regards to a gridlocked and tight-knit NHL playoff series, but that isn’t the case here. The bitter rivals will face off for the sixth and final time this season in Virginia on Friday night, each with hopes of punching their ticket to the Gateway City in mid-March. The Icepack walk into regionals down two games to three in their season series against UNC, but have a few advantages that may prove to be the difference upon puck drop.
The most notable advantage the Icepack has on the Tar Heels coming into their regional matchup is an ironic one: UNC making the ACCHL Championship Game. While this initially seemed to be a tough break for the Icepack a few weeks ago, falling short of capturing their fifth straight ACCHL Championship, stadium issues forced the championship game between the Tar Heels and Penn State Nittany Lions to be played this Thursday instead. This forces UNC to go from Winston-Salem, North Carolina to Springfield, Virginia overnight in order to make their Friday night matchup against the Icepack, and provides NC State with the chance to take advantage of a tired, emotional team with car legs.
Another leg-up the Icepack has on the Tar Heels is something they haven’t had all season long up until this point: momentum. Through their first three matchups this season, the Tar Heels managed to win all three, including two wins in Raleigh. However, momentum changes quickly in the game of hockey, and it’s currently swinging the Icepack’s direction. The boys in red have won their past two games against UNC, once on the road and most recently in front of 26,000 fans at Carter-Finley Stadium outdoors.
The Icepack has had an extremely successful week thus far, collecting spotlight from several major news outlets and social media pages for playing in one of the largest outdoor collegiate hockey games in history. However, there are bigger fish to fry for NC State, with the ultimate season goal on the line this weekend. It’s been a week of NC State dominance over UNC, and the Icepack will look to keep that trend going on Friday night.
Well, today’s the day. After a long and exciting lead up over the past few weeks, the NC State Icepack finally gets their chance to do something not many ACHA teams can claim: play in an outdoor hockey game… in North Carolina, no less. To add the cherry on top, the Icepack will take on the bitter rival UNC Tar Heels in their once-in-a-lifetime opportunity under the big lights.
The Icepack and Tar Heels walk into this highly anticipated matchup feeling good about themselves following dominant performances in their spring semesters. The Icepack recovered from a shaky first half of the season, ripping off an 8-game win streak and a 10-3 record overall in the second half. The Tar Heels come into the outdoor battle on a heater of their own, boasting an impressive 6-1 record in the spring semester. Their lone loss came at the hands of NC State at home just two weeks ago.
There’s certainly some good home team juju in Carter-Finley Stadium for the Icepack, as teams that play host in the venue are 7-1 this season. This includes the hometown Carolina Hurricanes dismantling the visiting Washington Capitals by a score of 4-1 on Saturday night in the 2023 NHL Stadium Series. However, road games have not been an issue for the visiting Tar Heels, a team who’s gone 3-0 against the Icepack in away games.
Neither the Icepack nor the Tar Heels are strangers to playing on NHL ice, especially against one another. This will be the second game this season the two teams have played each other on an NHL-regulated ice surface, the first being the Governor’s Cup at PNC Arena at the conclusion of the fall semester. UNC took this game by a score of 4-2, securing their first Governor’s Cup victory since its inception. The Icepack holds the all-time upper hand in this area, notching a 5-1 overall record in games on NHL surfaces.
There’s a clear winner of this outdoor feat, regardless of which team comes out victorious: the growth of hockey in North Carolina. North Carolina, and specifically the Greater Triangle area, has become a hotbed for youth hockey, in large part due to the advancement of the club collegiate programs in the state over the past decade.
Two ACHA teams playing under the lights of a football stadium is something few North Carolinian hockey fans would have predicted just a few short years ago, and there’s no doubt a spectacle such as this will only continue to grow the game for years to come.
In addition to Senior Night, the Icepack will be retiring #35 in honor of Jorge Alves. Alves played for the pack between 2001 and 2003. While with the Pack, Alves, the Stoughton, Ma native became the most decorated goalie in NC State history, having had a season for the ages in 2002-2003, capturing the following;
Bull Market will be giving three lucky ticket holders a chance at $10,000 at the Icepack home finale on February 3rd. All fans 18 and older who purchase tickets by 2:00 pm Friday the day of the UNC game will automatically be entered in for a chance to take a half-full ice shot for $10,000. The more tickets you buy, the more chances to be picked to take your shot! Season ticket holders are automatically entered. Purchase your tickets here.
Frozen Finley Announced: Icepack to take on UNC-Chapel on 2/20 as Part of The NHL Stadium Series.
The Icepack will take on UNC-Chapel Hill on Monday, February 20th at Carter-Finely Stadium. Please check back here for regular updates.
Tickets: Non-ticketed per the NHL. Entrance is free. However, this event will cost the self-funded programs over $10,000. Our title sponsor, CM Red is offsetting a portion of the fee but we will be accepting donations to cover the rest of the cost. Suggested donations are the price of Icepack home games, $10. Donations can be made at the door, through this site or via Venmo @IcepackNCState.
Entrance to use: TBD
With the beginning of the spring semester, the NC State Icepack received some much needed reinforcements in the form of newcomer Chase Williams. Here’s a little bit more about the newest member of the team.
Chase is currently a first-year business major with an entrepreneurship concentration. He’s shuffled all across his forward lines throughout his playing career, but will likely dedicate most of his time to right wing. The incoming forward was born and raised in the Raleigh area, spending most of his youth hockey career with the Carolina Junior Hurricanes. His most recent stint prior to joining the Icepack was with the USPHL’s South Shore Kings U18 team, where he notched 19 points in 18 total games played, the only player on the roster to finish above point-per-game.
When it comes to goals for his rookie season with the Icepack, Chase’s answer is simple: help the team win. “My goal is to give our boys the best possible chance for a deep playoff push,” Williams noted. “Getting back into my rhythm will be crucial, knocking the rust off after not playing games for nine months is something I need to do as soon as possible.” The rust certainly didn’t take long to shake for Chase, as he recorded an assist in each of the team’s two games against the Delaware Blue Hens this past weekend.
While he certainly wishes he was playing with the team from the get-go, Chase does believe there were bright spots in being forced to watch the Icepack play for the first few months. “I feel that practicing with the team and watching the games for a few months has helped me sit back and pick up on the squad’s strengths and weaknesses,” Williams said. “Obviously it was difficult not being able to suit up for many of our big matchups so far, but I hope I can use it as an advantage when I get my chance.”
Familiarity is everything when entering a new system, and Chase certainly has plenty of that coming into the Icepack family. In fact, one of the biggest things he’s looking forward to is finally being able to take the ice again with guys who he’s played with before. “Guys like Zack Robinson, Zach Herman, and Philip Bailey are old long-time teammates and friends of mine, so being able to jump on the ice in game action with them will be electric.”
“Something I am very confident in is my innate scoring ability, and I feel it is my best tool as a player,” Chase details when asked his biggest strength as a player. It’s no secret the Icepack certainly hoped for a more result-successful first semester, but Chase’s natural abilities may be exactly what the team needs to push themselves over the edge and get back to winning ways. While the sample size is certainly small, the Icepack is scoring at a 5.0 goals-per-game rate since Williams was inserted into the lineup, significantly higher than the 2.76 goals-per-game clip the team was scoring at in all games prior.
Since Chase became an official full-time member of the Icepack, the team’s offense has certainly seen a clear and obvious boost. While the team will most definitely still see their fair share of hardships and struggles over the second semester, it’s clear Chase has had nothing but a positive impact thus far, and the team’s odds of overcoming adversity only increase with his presence.
“New year, new me,” right? While the saying has become extremely cliche in recent years, the Icepack is embracing it to its fullest extent. Since the beginning of 2023, the team has gone 4-1, outscoring their opponents 19-16 over that stretch. In hockey, you’re only as good as your last performance, and the Icepack may have had their best of the season this weekend.
After a successful trip to St. Louis just prior to the beginning of the spring semester, the Icepack welcomed the Delaware Fightin’ Blue Hens for a two-game series at Invisalign Arena. The Blue Hens are far from a powerhouse team (ranked 25th in the Southeast Region, 7-16 record heading into this weekend), but the team was in search of revenge from last season, as the Icepack walked into Delaware and thrashed the Blue Hens twice last year.
Game one was easily one of the more dominant games the Icepack has played all season long. The boys in red and black scored seven goals in their first tilt against the Blue Hens on Friday night, tying their season high for goals in a single game this season. Dominant goal-scoring performances by sophomore forward Zack Robinson (hat trick) and senior forward Matt Miller (two goals) allowed the Icepack to cruise past Delaware with ease.
While game two wasn’t nearly as dominant offensively, the Icepack was able to do something they have struggled to do consistently all season: win close games. The team came into this weekend with a less-than-impressive record of 3-7 in games decided by two goals or less, something they certainly aimed to improve when reflecting on the difficult fall semester. A strong weekend performance by freshman forward Zach Herman (two goals, two assists in two games) continued into Saturday’s game, leading the Icepack to a 3-2 win, despite accruing 33 penalty minutes in the bout.
Following their two wins against Delaware this weekend, the Icepack has improved their overall record to 10-12-1, with a 2-2 record in ACCHL play. The team’s next game comes on Friday night against the 2-3 Wake Forest Demon Deacons in Winston-Salem.
Out with 2022, in with 2023. The phrase “new year, new me” is used all too often this time of year, and is certainly an adage the Icepack aims to authenticate. While the holidays may have come to an end this weekend, the Ice Pack is still feeling the joy as they travel to St. Louis, Missouri to take part in the Lindenwood Winter Classic this weekend. Following a 6-11-1 overall record to start the season, the team seeks to right the ship in their final showcase of the season against strong ACHA Division II competition.
Game one this weekend comes on Thursday night against the team hosting the showcase, the Lindenwood Lions. The Icepack’s first game of the new year will be far from an easy one, as they boast an impressive 14-4-0 record this season, as well as a near perfect 11-1-0 record in home games. The Lions are also currently ranked first amongst all teams in the ACHA Division II Central Region, proving this will be a true challenge for the Icepack.
The second game of the weekend comes on Friday night against the Davenport Panthers. While Davenport’s 9-10-0 record doesn’t pop off the stat sheet, they will certainly come out ready to play for an ulterior motive: revenge. The Icepack defeated the Panthers in the 2021 ACHA Nationals by a score of 5-3 in pool play to eliminate them from moving onto the playoff stage, so they will without a doubt be hungry for vengeance going into Friday night.
The Icepack wrap up their weekend trip to St. Louis with a Saturday afternoon tilt against the Trine Thunder. With a 14-5-0 record, the Thunder currently sit at third in the ACHA Division II Central Region, far from an easy game to end the showcase. Trine currently has a 6-2-0 record on the road, one of the best in their region, so the Thunder won’t be challenged by playing in foreign territory.
Much of the early portion of the season was dedicated to growing and developing the young and inexperienced talent that the Icepack took in this off-season, and the team did just that. However, now it’s time for results, and the coming of a brand new year gives the Icepack an excellent opportunity to start fresh and build on the foundation they’ve created.
While Thanksgiving is just around the corner, the Icepack had something bigger on their minds on a chilly Monday night in November: winning the Governor’s Cup. The Carolina Hurricanes may not have been in town at PNC Arena this Monday, but the Icepack made sure to keep the locker room warm, squaring off against the UNC Tar Heels on the big stage in the state’s capital.
As is often the tradition for the Governor’s Cup, the matchup highlighted the final game of the fall semester for both teams, and they certainly were each looking to finish their semesters with a win. The Tar Heels came into the game with some extra motivation, however, as they had been held winless in the five Governor’s Cups that’ve been held since its creation going into Monday’s tilt.
It’s not too often the Icepack is looking for redemption in matchups against UNC, but a 5-3 loss on home ice earlier this season at the hands of the Tar Heels gave the team a chance to redeem themselves in front of thousands of their loyal fans. Tag that onto a 5-3 win at home against the University of Cincinnati Bearcats on Saturday night, and you’ve got the recipe for a potential rebound for the boys in black and red.
Rivalry games can often be expected to be tight-knit, hard-fought battles early on. Unfortunately, this was most certainly not the case for the Icepack on Monday, as the Tar Heels controlled the tempo for nearly the entire opening frame. Despite being outshot 15-5 in the first period, sophomore netminder Isaac Tawyer stood tall between the pipes, allowing only one goal just before the halfway point in the first.
The second period looked much more like Icepack hockey, with the team controlling the play and getting multiple power play opportunities to boot. However, the momentum the Icepack built up was quickly stalled by two goals by the Tar Heels in the second half of the middle frame, extending the enemy lead to 3-0.
The Icepack was in desperate search of life entering the third period, with not much time to complete a 3-goal comeback. Thankfully, senior forward Alex Robinson answered the bell early, scoring a slick backhand tally just two minutes into the final period, cutting the UNC lead to two. True freshman Zach Herman continued the Icepack’s newfound momentum, notching a short-side tally to bring the score to 3-2. Unfortunately, the early onslaught of goals proved not enough, as the Tar Heels held onto the narrow lead through a back-and-forth third period and emerged victorious.
While life is certainly more fun when the Icepack is in action, some time to reflect on the previous semester may be just what the team needs to get out of their current funk. The loss at PNC Arena drops the Icepack’s overall record this season to 6-10-2, as well as a 3-3-0 record in ACCHL play. With just over a month until their next matchup, the Icepack certainly have plenty of time to recoup and gear up for a better second semester. The group returns to action just after New Years, where they will head to St. Louis to face off against Lindenwood, Davenport, and Trine University in the Lindenwood Showcase.
It’s never easy to lose a close game to your rivals, let alone two within a two-day span. Unfortunately, this is reality for the Icepack, as they come out of a weekend duel with the Liberty Flames winless. The Icepack took on Liberty in the recently-dubbed “Wagon Wheel” series, an annual contest between the two southeastern ACHA DII clubs aiming to be perennial National tournament contenders, suffering two one-goal losses in the process.
The series began last Friday at LaHaye Ice Center in Lynchburg, Virginia, with the NC State Icepack looking to find some steady ground and build momentum as the fall semester of play winds down. However, the game started off in opposite fashion, as Liberty took advantage of the traveling Icepack team, jumping out to a 2-0 lead after one period of play.
The group continued to demonstrate their season-long resilience, as goals by sophomores Philip Bailey and Zack Robinson would bring the game to a tie early in the third period. The game went back and forth for the remainder of the final frame, but saw the Icepack receive the short end of the stick, losing 5-4.
Game two shifted to Invisalign Arena in Raleigh, where the Icepack would seek to redeem themselves on home ice after a hard-fought loss a day prior. Despite changing locations for the second game, the team found themselves in familiar territory as game one, falling behind 1-0 early in the contest.
Another key Zack Robinson goal brought the game to 1-1 later in the first, which would prove to be the final goal of regulation. The team fought valiantly for 60-plus minutes, but found themselves on the bitter end of defeat once again, with Liberty scoring late in OT to seal the game, 2-1.
As is often the case with the densely-packed schedule the Icepack accrued this season, there’s little time to dwell on tough results. The University of Cincinnati Bearcats come to town for a two-game contest this weekend, a team the Icepack defeated in decisive fashion in Cincinnati last season, notching 7-1 and 8-3 wins. The teams face off this weekend at 8:35PM EST on Friday night and 8:15PM EST on Saturday night at Invisalign Arena.