By Cuan Doig, Class of 2026 and UNC Hockey Player
After nearly two-month without any game activity, the North Carolina Tar Heels made their return to action this past weekend with games against ACC opponents, Virginia Tech, and Wake Forest. With the end of the regular season in sight, the Tar Heels still have their eyes set on winning Regionals, but will need a month of strong, consistent play to ensure their spot in this end of year tournament.
Although both opponents had multiple games under their belts since the return to play, the Tar Heels were up to the challenge, taking care of both games in a convincing fashion. With two big wins this weekend, the team keeps their regional hopes very much alive, as they continue to build momentum and prove to the league, that they are a skilled, hardworking, well coached force on the ice.
After coming out flat in the first period, the Tar Heels managed to stay in the game thanks to the efforts of Joel Hughes between the pipes. With a goal midway through the first, the Tar Heels took the lead and never looked back. Freshman goal-scoring machine, Patrick O’Shaughnessy, continued his scoring ways adding two more to his season total, vaulting him up to second in the Nations for freshman scoring. Captain Henry Foster showed once again how to turn defense into offense, with his 6th short-handed goal of the year, moving him inside the top 3 in the country. As the game moved into the 3rd period, the tar heels had established their fore-check and locked down the neutral zone, leading to their inevitable 6-3 victory over Virginia Tech.
With just over 12 hours of rest before Sundays 11am puck drop, the Tar Heels came out flat once again, and found themselves down 1-0 early in the first period. This goal served as a wake-up call for the Tar Heels, who soon got back on track by sticking to the game plan of “pucks on net”. For the rest of the game, UNC peppered the opposing team’s goalie, putting up nearly 50 shots on net. As the game progressed, the Tar Heels didn’t take their foot off the gas and controlled the pace of play with great neutral zone entries and sustained offensive zone pressure, which put them up 4-1 with just minutes to play in the 3rd period. Wake Forest however wasn’t going to give up - the Deacons made a late 3rd period push scoring 2 quick goals, making it a 4-3 contest with under 3 minutes to play. The Tar Heels however played these last minutes in the offensive zone, adding another win to the books.