Ryan Henkel - The Technician: The NC State men’s club hockey team secured its second straight Admiral’s Cup as the Icepack (25-3) won the ACCHL championship with a 5-4 victory over Wake Forest Sunday afternoon.
It is the team’s fourth ACCHL title and the first time the team has ever won back to back. NC State beat out UNC-Charlotte, Georgetown and held on against Wake Forest as it made its way to hoisting the cup.
After concluding a wildly successful regular season that saw the Icepack finish with a 25-3-0 record and riding the high of a 17-game winning streak, the Pack had turned its focus to the tournament.
In its opening match, the Icepack cruised to an easy victory, routing the UNC-Charlotte 49’ers 16-0. Six NC State skaters registered two goals, leading the way for the offense and the shutout was achieved by senior netminder Josh Cannon.
In the next round, the Icepack was matched up against the Georgetown Hoyas, who had pulled off an upset win against UVa in the opening round.
NC State jumped out to the lead in the first thanks to two goals from freshman Chris Solomon and an early tally in the second by junior Ian O’Rourke pushed the game beyond the Hoyas’ reach. Two insurance goals by sophomore Colby Pederson helped the Pack along to a 5-2 victory and a trip back to the finals.
The Icepack was paired off against the tournament No. 2 seed Wake Forest for the championship and it came down to the wire. After one, the game seemed tame and with a goal from junior Eric Todd, the game was tied at one goal apiece, but the second was where it exploded.
Four straight goals in rapid succession by NC State seemed to be the game signed, sealed and delivered but that was not the end of it. After Wake Forest took its timeout, the Deacons scored three unanswered to close out the period only down by one.
The Icepack, however, held strong and after riding out Wake Forest’s final push, it came out victorious.
Now the winner of back-to-back ACCHL seasons, the NC State Icepack has accomplished the primary goal it had once held. However, ever since last season, the Pack has yearned for more.
That isn’t all for the Icepack, as the team now looks forward to the ACHA D2 Southeast Regionals which it enters as the fourth-overall seed.
NC State’s first regional game is slated for the second round on Saturday, Feb. 29 and it will face off against the second-lowest remaining seed after the first round of regional play is concluded the day prior.
The team will then play the following day on March 1 as the Icepack tries to secure one of the two bids to return to nationals for the second straight season.
NC State has already accomplished a lot on the season as ACCHL season champions, Stephen Russell Memorial Tournament champions and now Admiral’s Cup champions, and it still isn’t enough.
With success comes a yearning for the top and the Icepack may have what it takes to push this program to an even higher level than last season.