Courtesy of Kim Woodlief
CHARLOTTE– Following a last-second victory against Coastal Carolina last Saturday, thanks to a Greg Wiklund power play goal, UNC Wilmington club hockey will hit the ice this Saturday against UNC Charlotte to play their penultimate game of the season. The ‘Icehawks’ come into this game with a 3-10-3 record on the season.
Embracing the role of spoiler
Coming into this weekend, UNCC is currently ninth in the Atlantic Coast Collegiate Hockey League playoff standings, with the top eight teams in the league making the playoffs. In a losing season for UNCW, it can play spoiler this Saturday and keep UNCC out of a playoff spot.
“They are probably going to think that we only won three games and we aren’t going to be any good,” said forward Joey Alexander. “We are going to come out and forecheck hard and just play the way we can and push them back and hopefully knock them out of the playoffs.”
Once again, Alexander leads UNCW in scoring which is the same thing he accomplished last season as a freshman. Being such a key player on this team, Alexander feels like the team continues to get better despite the results on the scoreboard but does feel like the team isn’t playing a full 60 minutes.
“We’re just falling short but not showing up for 10 minutes at a time and in those 10 minutes we get scored on.”
A closer look at the opponent
UNCC comes into this weekend with a 10-7-2 record following a tie against Wake Forest and a 5-1 loss to North Carolina State last weekend. UNCC is a team that is used to having success considering they are the defending ACCHL champions, after defeating Wake Forest in the tournament final last season. A win on Saturday would mean a lot to the UNCW program according to head coach Matt Huestis.
“It could really give a positive direction for next season, to show that we can play with these ACC teams,” said Huestis. “We lost a couple of games to (North) Carolina and Elon that were one or two goal games. If we could beat a team like Charlotte and potentially keep them out of the ACC tournament, that would be awesome.”
Keep an eye out for UNCC’s Andrew Miller, who comes into this game with 44 points (28 goals and 16 assists) in 19 games played.
Building off the win against Coastal
In a season where the Seahawks haven’t been able to string together much consistency from game to game, UNCW will try and change that and start their first winning streak of the season on Saturday. One of the main things that impressed Huestis most about the win on Saturday was how well the team skated. This being despite the fact that UNCW played the night before against College of Charleston and arrived back into Wilmington around 5 a.m.
Huestis added that since moving forwards Will Tooke and Hunter Phillips to defenseman (which is a decision the team made a few weeks ago), the team has a much easier ability to break the puck out of their zone.
“With their quickness, decision making and making one tape to tape pass which makes a world of difference at this level, it has been awesome to see them transition to D.”
Alexander also being moved to center to play with both Greg and Tim Wiklund, has provided even more opportunities for Alexander according to Huestis, when it comes to things like getting pucks in space and having the opportunity to be the playmaker that he can be.
The game on Saturday will be played at the Extreme Ice Center in Indian Trail at 2:30 p.m. A live stream for the game may be provided under the Charlotte HockeyYouTube channel.