After a tough weekend streak against Tennessee, the Clemson ice hockey team scored eight unanswered goals to defeat the Kennesaw State Owls 8-3 on October 28.
In the win, the Tigers had a slow first period, as Kennesaw State scored three goals in the first 15 minutes. Trailing 3-0, Clemson then found their urgency in the final five minutes of the period.
When the game clock reached the 4:37 mark in the first, Clemson left wing Cade Heinold, assisted by center Nicholas Chesare, fought back with a power play goal to bring the Tigers to the board.
“We started off sloppy…we didn’t really have much puck control,” Heinold said. “But once we got settled, our systems started, we started putting everything together. We were thrown with that goal and then just eight unanswered after that.
Three minutes later, striker Conor Brydges scored on a goal assisted by defender Thomas Samuelsen and center Troy Gouveia, making it 3-2 late in the first.
The Tigers then came out buzzing in the second period, determined to take the lead.
A minute and a half into the second period, Kennesaw State’s Adrian Pape was awarded a hooking penalty, allowing Gouveia to tie the score on the power play.
At 12:24 of the second period, center Mike McKeon scored the goal for Clemson, assisted by left winger Jack Owen-Turner and Kopf.
With 32 seconds left in the second, center Ronan Bryant scored for Clemson on a leading shot, assisted by defenseman Conor Petersen.
Even after the last minute goal, the Tigers were still not finished.
Six seconds later, center Patrick O’Brien pulled off a quick unassisted backhand to give Clemson a 6-3 lead early in the third.
Brydges, McKeon, Bryant and O’Brien all scored their first goals of the season, and their teammates were very proud.
“We’ve only had four or five goalscorers this season, so it was nice to see some new faces scoring,” Heinold said. “Mikey had his first of the year… I was really proud of him. I think he’s going to turn it on for the rest of the year, and Ferny too… (he) has been hanging around all season. It was good to see him get his first. It was awesome.”
When the buzzer sounded at the end of the second period, the two teams were pushing and jostling. Clemson left wingers Liam Clark and Tommy Papa and Aaron Tisdale of Kennesaw State were sent to the box for roughing early in the third period.
The Owls and Tigers each took three penalties in the final period, but Clemson made it difficult for Kennesaw State to capitalize on one of its power plays.
“One of the disadvantages, we applied three or four blocked shots in a row,” Owen-Turner said. “Sometimes people just remember goals, but those are the types of moments we remember in the dressing room. The guys put their bodies on the line… That’s kind of what stuck with me throughout this match.
Meanwhile, Clemson scored his last two power play goals. Chesare, assisted by Kopf, scored with 16:23 to go. Eight minutes later, Kopf scored the final score for the Tigers with a quick unassisted goal.
At 4:31, Gouveia was given a two-minute penalty for slashing, immediately followed by a two-minute penalty on defender Benjamin Brucker for a high stick. Clemson’s defense remained solid, fending off Kennesaw State’s four-minute advantage to punctuate solid defensive play.
After two close games against Tennessee, Clemson head coach John Chesare explained how important it was for the team to win this game.
“It’s crucial. Critical, really,” he said. “We told the boys in the dressing room that they have to play every game with a sense of urgency. Every game is a must win from now on… Every game going forward is a must win at this stage.
And Chesare and his team did just that the next day, as the Tigers beat Kennesaw State again in a 5-2 victory on October 29.
Next up for Clemson will be a home game against the University of Georgia on Nov. 18.