By: Connor Corrigan-Webster
Team Sports Writer & Journalist
136 days. That's how long it's been since the Icepack last took the ice. Feels like an eternity, right?
While the Icepack may have fell short of their national championship aspirations last season, all eyes are looking through the windshield at the season ahead. With one of the best recruiting classes in school history, the team aims to collect some new talent and make a push for their first ever national title.
The first piece of the puzzle in the Icepack's quest for glory is their game schedule. With the 2023-24 game-slate being released today, I wanted to walk you all through some of the many intriguing and important dates and events to mark in your calendars.
If you want to catch all the action at Invisalign Arena this season, be sure to purchase your season tickets here!
Home & Season Opener vs. East Carolina Pirates
The Icepack opens their season at home with a game against the in-state East Carolina Pirates (9/8). The team last played ECU during the 2021-22 season, in which they routed the visiting Pirates by a score of 8-0.
The opening game of any season always has a sense of excitement around it, regardless of opponent or location. The itch for hockey finally gets scratched with the initial puck drop, and there's no better place to kick off an inevitably-exciting season than at home in front of the amazing Icepack fans.
"Division I" Skirmish vs. Liberty Flames
The road portion of the Icepack's schedule hits high gear early, as they head to Lynchburg (9/15) to take on one of the most highly-touted ACHA DI organizations in the nation: the Liberty Flames.
The Flames (18-12-1 in Division I) have become an annual "gut check" game for the Icepack over the past three seasons. While the Icepack may not have defeated the top Flames team in any of these games, they've made notable progress each time, even taking an early lead in enemy territory last season.
The atmosphere is electric, and the competition and game speed are top-notch for ACHA action. Keep an eye on this one.
Home Test vs. Kentucky Wildcats
The premier opponents visiting Invisalign Arena this season will come earlier and more often than in years past, as the Icepack will look to fend off the Kentucky Wildcats in their second home game of the season.
The Wildcats (27-6-1 in 2022-23) are a team well on the rise in the ACHA, finishing with the third-most wins in the entirety of Divison II last season. The Icepack has faced off against Kentucky thrice in the past two seasons, winning twice and tying once. The Cats and Pack tied 2-2 on the road last season, their most recent meeting with the Wildcats.
Kentucky will come in hungry for a win against a big-name team like the Icepack early in the season, and this game is certainly one you will want to catch in person.
Out-Of-State Road Trips Aplenty
The NC State Icepack has been no stranger to distant away games over recent seasons, and they will continue to run up the mileage on the team charter bus this upcoming year.
The team leaves the state a total of SEVEN times, with the potential for more depending on how deep of a playoff run they make. The team will travel to Virginia (9/15, 10/6, 11/3-11/5, 1/27), Pennsylvania (9/29-9/30), and Kentucky (10/20-10/22), playing high-octane ACHA competition in the Penn State Nittany Lions, Liberty Flames, Kentucky Wildcats, and more along the way.
Governor's Cup vs. UNC Tar Heels
One of the best games of the year is the spectacle known as the annual Governor's Cup. Since the 2017-18 season, the Icepack has faced off against the rival UNC Tar Heels at PNC Arena for the final game of each fall semester, wrapping up the calendar year of college hockey. Fans of both teams pack the building, drumming up an average of more than 5,000 attendees from across the state.
There have been six Governor's Cups thus far, with the Icepack having won five of them. Their only loss came in the most recent battle, an outcome they'll certainly seek to reverse in order to regain the title.