Banasiewicz hat trick propels State to 8-1 Victory on Friday Night.
State fans could have been upset with Punxsutawney Phil’s recent prediction, but no fan was upset tonight over the Icepack’s (11-6, 7-2 ACC) 8-1 obliteration of the Duke Blue Devils (0-14, 0-9 ACC) in the Friday night showdown. This was a game in which fans saw the Pack gain another 2 points in the ACCHL tournament standings, guaranteeing they finish in the top 3 seeds for the tournament.
The Pack came out charging and aggressive early against the Devils, but found themselves down by one not even 3 minutes into the game off a fluky bounce. Team Captain Sam Banasiewicz was not pleased with that, as he took matters into his own hands and fired a quick snapshot not too much later past goaltender Alex Deckey. After the celebrations died down, the period stayed scoreless at 1, much due to the play of Deckey, who stopped a whopping 24 shots in the period. The Pack’s Ian Hutchison was only tested 3 times that period.
Energy came into the second quickly, but nothing really happened until the under the radar play of Ian O’Rourke sprung Luis Giminez on a breakaway for his 4th in two games. Ryan Kinney also had one of his first from his return, and contributed to the whopping 78 shots State had tonight. But the story of the second period wasn’t the 5 goal comeback State was continuing, it was the reconnection of what seemed to be the long lost dominant duo in Banasiewicz and Giminez. The two were able to make crisp passes to one another, including the 5th of the game by Banasiewicz, where Luis saucered a pass through the slot for Sam’s one timer.
"They have a great chemistry, a knack for finding each other…” said Veteran Head Coach Mike Gazzilo. “They connect, they aren't selfish, they're more than happy to get the puck to the other guy."
A struggling Duke team wasn’t able to generate much tonight, and saw most of their game being diminished by the amount of time State spent in the Offensive Zone and on special teams. State went perfect on the Penalty Kill tonight, and while having no power play goals, Tyler Alfonzetti registered a shorthanded goal for the Pack, something that most viewers haven’t seen in a long time.
“It’s a big win… any win is a win,” said Ian Hutchison, PackTV’s player of the game. “Any win is worthwhile for the team moving forward.” Coach Gazzillo added that "It's a matter of playing a little better each time… earn a little endurance for the tournament."
Ian Hutchison backstopped the team tonight. While not tested much, the 18 saves he made were important ones for the continuation of momentum. This was his first start all year, and the second time he has seen Ice Time.
“Get warm, that’s the biggest thing for me” said Hutchison, who spoke to PackTV about his pregame preparations. “Work on hand eye… getting mentally prepared… it’s such a mental game.”
The third period closed off with Ryan Kinney registering a goal, assisted by Pack newcomer Eric Mura, one of his first points of the night, along with getting the start on defense alongside Ian O’Rourke. Sam Banasiewicz completed the Hat Trick, and Alfonzetti registered his short handed goal. The team hopes the momentum from tonight’s blowout victory will carry over into tomorrow’s Breast Cancer Awareness game against UNCW.
Notes: This was Duke’s first game since November… The Icepack was without Will Biberdorf, Cam Mazikowski, Andrew Kristof, and Josh Cannon… the 2nd seed in the ACCHL tournament standings have not been determined yet, state now has 14 conference points...