‘Icehawks’ pick up first win of season

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Courtesy of Kim Woodlief

Yv Scarlett Maciel, Contributing Writer

Editor’s note: In game two of last weekend’s double-header, UNC Wilmington fell 5-1 to Virginia Tech.

To kick off Family Weekend at UNCW, what did everyone do to avoid their parents grilling them with questions? They watched the Icehawks’ in action of course! 

The Wilmington Icehouse was packed with students, family and children (who were up way past their bedtimes) who stood eagerly on benches and close to the glass. Icehawk fans brandishing their shorts, flip flops and teal sweaters were easily spotted.  

As Ozzy Osbourne’s Crazy Train blasted through the speakers, gladiators from UNC Wilmington and Virginia Tech skated onto the ice. With a symphony of cheers, boos and fists pounding on the glass, it was clear that everyone at the game had chosen their side. The crowd was electric, weiding signs written in sharpie saying “Go Hawks!” and “Good Luck Zuck!”. 

It was an emotional night completed with blindsided hits, ejections and power plays. 60 minutes was not enough to contain the excitement, so it spilled into another 10 minutes of overtime before the Icehawksclinched their first win of the season thanks to goals from captain Hunter Phillips and Logan Stewart.   

A closer look at the Hokies 

The Hokies (1-0) came to Wilmington with considerable confidence after a 15-1 demolition of Radford. Whereas the Seahawks (0-1-1) had not yet won a game in regulation.  

Going up against a team with the shooting capacity of VT can be daunting; however, the Seahawks were reassured by their coach. 

“We can control our effort and our discipline when on the ice, but we can’t control how good the other team is going to be,” said head coach Rich Brouwer. “It’s our job to be focused on our systems and play the game to the best of our ability. After the game is over, every player has to be able to look at themselves and honestly ask themselves if they gave 100% on every shift.” 

Whether it was the ecstatic, glass-banging crowd or the motivational words of Brouwer (or a mix of both), the Seahawks were able to outscore Virginia Tech for a win on home ice.  

Captain Hunter Phillips brings his A-game 

During the first 6 minutes of the game in a powerplay, Phillips took an unassisted slapshot and put the puck in the net beautifully — so fast that Hokies goalie Collin Couture did not have time to react.  

Thanks to Phillips, the Seahawks were able to stay on the board with a point unchallenged until Virginia Tech’s CJ Hathaway buried one on the powerplay to tie the game at 1-1. A shootout was the only way to end this tie. 

Being called first to bury the puck for your team’s first win is a nerve-racking experience, but Phillips was able to keep calm.  

I just wanted to make sure that I hit the net” Phillips said. “I’ve generally used the same move when I go in on goalies so when I saw how the goalie was positioned, when I got the puck in the shootout, I was very confident that I was going to score.” 

Thankfully for UNCW, Logan Stewart was able to get the second goal meaning a win for the Seahawks.  

Goalie Besemer: Saving the team from catastrophe  

Having tall, beardy, muscled men shooting pucks at you at 100 mph is no one’s idea of a dream. Facing over 20 shots on goal from the Hokies, goaltender Ryan Besemer was able to stop pucks by taking the game a minute at a time. 

“I’d honestly say though I was just trying to focus on each and every puck.” Besemer said. “ I was kinda treating each and every minute as a penalty kill and focusing on trying to chip as much time off the clock as possible.” 

Being that the Hokies’ defense was a bit more physical than the Seahawks, giving the goaltender a good view of the puck is vital.  

Blindsided hits are not fun

One of the greatest things about hockey is that it is one of the only sports that allow their players to be wholly physical. It encourages players to release their anger onto their opponents.  

It is always fun to watch your least favorite player get pummeled to the ground; although, it is not fun when a player gets completely blindsided and is seen sprawled out on the ice with the wind knocked out of him. 

Senior Kiernan Miller received a blindside hit from VT’s Brandan Hoey with 11:04 minutes left in the second period. Miller was left with his head down on the ice with the arena silent for several seconds, before the boos and yells of “eject him” came sprawling from various sides of the rink. Hoey was ejected from the game while Miller left the ice to the locker rooms, leaving the Seahawks with a 5-minute power play.  

Thankfully for the ‘Icehawks,’ Miller was able to rejoin the game to jump on the celebratory pile as the team won in a shootout.