The NC State Ice Pack battled it out with their rival, the UNC Tar Heels, in the third and final Backyard Brawl of the season on Wednesday, January 23rd. With a packed house, it took place at PNC Arena in Raleigh, NC, with the puck drop occurring at 7 p.m. This exhilarating match-up was the last of the three that occur annually, and the Wolfpack claimed all three victory’s after their defeat of UNC last night. With this season being the Ice Pack’s best record of 17-0 and ranked #6, they advanced to a record of 18-0 and continued with a strong #6 rank in the Carolina East Division. The Tar Heels, after a season long struggle, advanced with a record of 7-12 after their loss against the Ice Pack.
With fans piling into PNC more than any other Backyard Brawl this season, the atmosphere was loud and intense. Assistant coach Tim Healy, when being interviewed by PackTV, stated that “You can’t argue against hockey in North Carolina tonight when you see a crowd like this.” As the two teams battled it out aggressively, the score surprisingly remained 0-0 through the first ten minutes of the first period. While the Ice Pack seemed to have more shots on goal, Chapel Hill’s defense was determined to keep the scoring low as they made some fantastic defensive stops. However, with two great assists from NC State’s #19 Eric Todd and #5 Alex Vedetta, #7 Matt Costigan made the much-needed goal for the Ice Pack as both teams ended the first period with a score of 1-0.
The second period started off as the Wolfpack came in with intensity, but the goalie for the Tar Heels made some impressive saves consecutively as NC State kept making shots. There was definitely more aggression and roughness from both teams in the second period as players were getting rammed into the glass and the crowd was egging them on. An athletic goal was made by the Ice Pack’s #2 Sam Banasiewicz and assisted by #23 Laythe Jadallah 7:51 into the second period, bringing the score to 2-0. Quickly echoing this goal, the Wolfpack scored again, this time by #21 Alex Robinson and assisted by #24 Devin Halko and #11 Riley Johnson. With the Tar Heels struggling to regain some ground in PNC against the Wolfpack, the second period came to an ending score of 3-0, Ice Pack on top.
NC State made a quick statement less than a minute into the third and final period as #8 Nikita Anistratov completes a big power move to increase the Pack’s lead 4-0. Shortly after this goal, the Tar Heels expressed their frustration as a brawl broke out between both teams, with #7 Matt Costigan from NC State and #28 Kyle Bullock from UNC being ejected for head contact. Looking to close out the game with a strong victory, the Ice Pack’s #18 Cam Mazikowski puts it in the net with ten minutes left to go, bringing the score to 5-0.
The NC State Ice Pack pulled out a victory in the third Backyard Brawl at PNC Arena against rival UNC Tar Heels with a final score of 5-0. This victory helped the Wolfpack advance to 18-0 as they clinch the ACCHL Carolina East Division.
What’s next for both teams? Catch the Ice Pack hoping to continue their winning streak at UNC Charlotte on Saturday, January 26th. The Tar Heels will be playing at home against Wake Forest on Saturday, January 26th as well as they prepare to improve their overall season record.