Last weekend proved to be a successful one for the Icepack, sweeping the Delaware Blue Hens in their two-game series in Newark, Delaware. Following the weekend, NC State flipped their record from 10-11 to 12-11, marking the first time the team has been over .500 since mid-October.
The most notable aspect of the weekend was the immense collective effort it displayed, as a staggering 16-out-of-19 dressed skaters recorded points during the two-game stretch. On top of that, 10 of those 16 players had multi-point performances, showcasing the immense talent, depth, and potent offensive firepower the team can possess when clicking.
Forwards Zach Robinson and Zach Herman stole the spotlight this weekend, putting up matching 2-goal, 2-assist weekends. Rookie goaltender Addison Lawrence turned in yet another strong performance, earning a 16-save shutout in the second game, leaving him with zero total goals against in the new semester.
Additionally, the penalty kill unit demonstrated excellent efficiency, going a perfect 10-for-10 through both games. Special teams is key for any team seeking to place themselves in the Nationals tournament, and the Icepack demonstrated their ability to perform in that category this weekend.
The Icepack now shifts their focus to the upcoming pair of games against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. With a season record of 7-5-1, the ‘Pack is seeking to build off their current momentum against another conference opponent. History favors NC State in this matchup, boasting a 2-0 record against the Deacons over the past two years.
Game 1 is set to kick off at 8:00pm at Invisalign Arena tonight, with Game 2 shifting to Winston-Salem at 12:30pm tomorrow.
As the winter break comes to an end and the new year ticks on, anticipation is building for the upcoming semester of Icepack hockey. The ‘Pack is eager to put the past behind them and set the stage for a successful playoff run as they enter the crucial stretch of the season.
Jackson Cowen, senior defenseman and assistant captain, emphasized the need for a defensive overhaul in order to yield more wins this semester.
"I think we have to be harder defensively. We have to win more battles in our zone and make it harder to score. We need to help out our goalies."
The Icepack has allowed 68 goals so far this season, a middle-of-the-road mark in the ACCHL Premier Division. If they seek a better record in 2024, it’ll have to start from the crease-out.
Isaac Tawyer, the junior goaltender with plenty of starts under his belt, echoed the team’s dissatisfaction with their first-semester performance.
"None of us are satisfied with our first semester performance. We're looking to become a more consistent, winning team and punch a ticket to nationals."
Consistency is certainly another point the Icepack needs to improve upon this semester if they are to make a serious nationals push. The team has had difficulty stacking wins in this campaign, only managing to string together multiple wins in a row twice in the first semester.
Noah Scherff, one of the team’s many freshman defensemen, looks ahead with optimism, emphasizing the undoubted potential of the team.
"Our hope is to start coming together as a team. We have a young and skilled team with a ton of potential, and, if we live up to it, there isn't a team we can't beat. Once we start clicking as a group in all 3 zones, the sky's the limit."
The Icepack’s emphasis on synchronization bodes well for the team's future outlook, as a more cohesive and well-coordinated effort, along with their immense talent across the board, will likely lead to more success and, most importantly, more wins.
As the Icepack looks forward to the new semester, the team is committed to strengthening their defensive game and developing a sense of unity, both on and off the ice. With a collective goal of reaching nationals and a renewed determination, the group is poised to turn things around and notch a better effort in the second half.
With the Icepack's second semester kicking off tomorrow night in Morrisville against Rowan, be sure to mark your calendars of the team's remaining schedule, and purchase tickets ahead of time for home games to ensure you can watch the ‘Pack on game days.