Preview: UNCW hockey hosts Elon

Brian Carpenter, Staff Writer

After a tie and win against Christopher Newport last weekend, the UNCW hockey team returns to the Wilmington Ice House for a Friday night tilt with Elon at 10 p.m.

Friday night’s game against CNU ended in a 4-4 tie and Saturday’s game ended with a 3-0 Seahawks victory. Goals were scored by Ben Cooperrider, Daniel Brescia (2), Will Tooke, Joey Alexander (2) and Hunter Phillips.

“It took us the whole game Friday night to get our legs under us,” says assistant coach Peter Gilinson. “Saturday’s game was probably the best game we have played all year. We had good goaltending, good special teams, shots on goal, team chemistry, and communication.”

“It was a little difficult to get into the game that first night but the next day we pulled a better game out,” says defenseman Nick Packard. “It definitely showed that we were a little more prepared and played a smarter game.”

Division II’s Elon University comes into the game with a 4-8-3 record following a 7-0 loss to Virginia Tech University on Saturday, Jan. 13. The team is led in scoring by Sam Sarath with a total of 22 points (14 goals and eight assists) and Scott Newton with 17 points (10 goals and seven assists).

Over the last two seasons, UNCW and Elon have met two times with the Seahawks taking both meetings by final scores of 6-4. However, the team still knows the challenges that the Phoenix can bring, despite their struggles this season.

“Historically, they play us pretty evenly,” says Gilinson. “They have depth that we normally don’t see with our opponents so, in terms of preparing, we need to work really hard, do the best we can and I think we will come out alright.”

With this being a new opponent for UNCW this season, the team sees the preparation as more of what they need to improve on rather than what Elon does when it comes to their skill level.

“We are going into this game not thinking about their skill level but making sure that we play our best game and use the home ice advantage to our advantage and try to play it as it is just a regular game,” says Packard.

Gilinson said that despite the solid effort the team put together this weekend, there are still areas that the team is looking to improve on. One, in particular, is playing more on even strength.

“If we are on even strength, we really control and play the game we want to. When we are shorthanded with penalties that kill us.”

Gilinson added that the message for the team is to stay out of the box and that going forward it will be hard for the team to play well on an extended basis playing shorthanded. The Seahawks will be looking to improve upon this as regionals approach.

Tickets for Friday remain at $5 for UNCW students, with adult tickets at $8 and $3 for kids 10 and under. Coastal Carolina will host CNU at 6:15 p.m. on Friday and at 10 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 20 at the Wilmington Ice House. Both those games are free to attend.