Despite stellar season, UNCW hockey isn’t done pursuing goals

Brian Carpenter, Staff Writer

UNCW club hockey team has been familiar with success throughout the program’s existence. Since being founded in 2004, the team has made multiple visits to the South Regional Division Three American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) tournament and back in 2014-15 made their first-ever trip to nationals.

This season, the team is currently 14-0-1 on the season. A win or tie against North Carolina State on Feb. 3 would lead the Seahawks to the first undefeated season in program history.

In what has been a memorable season for the Seahawks, including being ranked by the ACHA for the first time and four wins against the team that knocked them out of regionals last year (Liberty), the Seahawks have benefited from leadership and team chemistry throughout their campaign.

Captain Tyler Evangelous and assistant captains Bennett Clark and Will Tooke have faced many challenges this year but the reward of leading the team to elevated success has meant a great deal to these players.

“Coming into this season, this was the first year that I had an A on my jersey,” said Clark. “I think that me and Tyler have done a pretty good job of leading the guys and seeing the progress that we have had this season and the discipline that we have had since the first couple of games has been pretty incredible.”

Tooke has considered being an assistant captain of this team an honor when considering all the leadership he has around him. He was chosen as a silent leader of the team due to his work ethic and doing the right thing all the time by coach Matt Huestis.

“There are a lot of leaders on the team without a letter and it has definitely been an honor to wear a letter this season,” said Tooke.

For first-year assistant coach Tony McCabe, it has been rewarding to see the team improve from the beginning of the season to where the team is now.

“Any time you have a group at any kind of hockey level, you are going to start at one level at the beginning of the season,” said McCabe. “To watch them grow is pretty rewarding.”

McCabe added that seeing different line combinations come together and implementing different power play and penalty kill systems succeed has been a testament to the team’s ability to make adjustments and work hard.

Team chemistry has played a key role in how the Seahawks are able to keep a tight-knit group on the ice and their ability to perform well throughout the year.

“In the locker room, it was super quiet towards the beginning of the year, but it is completely black and white now,” said Tooke. “Everyone gets along really well and there haven’t been any real major issues.”

Despite the major success the team has had this season, the main goal for the team from the start of the season remains the same.

“Our ultimate goal remains to make it to nationals and we have regionals coming up,” said Clark. “It’s great but the season is not over yet and I can’t get too happy yet.”

The South Regionals are scheduled for Feb. 23-24 in Wesley Chapel, Florida.

Contributing Writer Brian Carpenter can be found on Twitter @bostonfan17856. Any tips or suggestions should be forwarded via email to uncwseahawksports@gmail.comFor video updates from The Seahawk, subscribe to our YouTube channel.