NC State Remains Unbeaten, Win 5-0 Against UNC

NC State Remains Unbeaten, Win 5-0 Against UNC

By Chris Cole

January 24, 2019

Wednesday night was the third and final game of the season between the NC State Wolfpack and the University of North Carolina Tar Heels at PNC Arena in Raleigh.  While UNC normally plays home games at the OC Sportsplex in Hillsborough and NC State plays at the Iceplex in Raleigh the games between the two are always played at the much bigger PNC Arena, home of the Carolina Hurricanes, for what is dubbed the “Backyard Brawl”.  Wednesday’s game, a 5-0 shutout win for NC State, had plenty of tales both before and after the game that brought more meaning to the game itself.

Streak versus Streak:

Going into Wednesday night’s game both teams were riding high on winning streaks: UNC on a four-game streak and NC State with their massive 17-game streak and undefeated overall in the season.  Having lost the previous two times this season to State you know UNC was chomping at the bit to ruin the Wolfpack’s run as well as keep their winning streak alive. Sadly, State was just too good for the Tar Heels and with it brought their streak to an end and upped State’s streak to 18.

A spot already clinched, another may not happen:

With a 13-1 victory over UNC Wilmington on January 19th NC State clinched first place in the Carolina East division of the Atlantic Coast Conference Hockey League (ACCHL) with an unbeaten 8-0-0-0 record and 16 points.  UNC, on the other hand, has struggled in division play with a 2-6-0-0 record and a measly four points, but because Wilmington (1-5-0-0; 2 pts.) and Duke (same record) have done worse it means UNC sits in second place in Carolina East.  

NC State has already punched a place to the ACCHL playoffs as champion of Carolina East while UNC will need to finish in positions 5-8 in order to get an invite.  That will be a tall order considering George Washington (4-3-1-2; 11 pts), Virginia Tech (4-3-1-0; 9 pts), James Madison (4-0-0-0; 8 pts), and St. Joseph’s (3-3-1-0; 7 pts) are currently in the spots 5-8 while UNC Charlotte is outside the bubble in 9th with a record of 3-3-0-0 for six points.

The futures of both teams:

Besides introduction the starting lineups of both teams there were special recognitions of those seniors that would be playing in their last Backyard Brawl.  What was noticeable was that UNC is losing close to half of their squad to graduation whereas State is losing only five players, most notably their stalwart goaltender Joey Hall and captain Sam Banasiewicz.  UNC next year will basically have an entirely new team while State’s dominant core will be back with hopes of repeating the success of this season.

Can State stay perfect?

State’s remaining games are against UNC Charlotte, Duke, Clemson (Not sure if they are playing their ACHA D3 team or no game at all), and Wake Forest.  Besides Clemson, State has already played the other three teams this season with Charlotte being their closest game, a 7-5 home win. Wake Forest and Duke both lost heavily to the Wolfpack by scores of 10-0 and 8-1 respectively.  If they do face Clemson then it should lean towards the result of State’s game against another ACHA D3 member East Carolina which was a 7-0 win. They will have a harder time in the tournament as George Washington was their toughest test to date, taking State to overtime before losing in that period by a score of 4-3.  Perfect for the season? Yes. Including the tournament? To Be Determined.

PHOTOS: Chris Cole/Under Review