ACCHL Tournament: North Carolina State and Virginia to meet in the Championship Final
Winston-Salem, NC - Two semifinal games in the ACCHL post season Championship Tournament were completed at the Winston-Salem Fairgrounds Annex Saturday. North Carolina State and Virginia posted wins and will meet for the Tournament Championship game Sunday. NC State defeated Wake Forest and the Virginia Cavaliers slipped past Georgetown in the other semifinal qualifier. Puck drop Sunday is scheduled for 1:00 PM Sunday afternoon also at the Annex.
Semifinal Game One- North Carolina State-5 vs Wake Forest-2
An intrastate rivalry was featured in the 4:30 PM start as the number one tournament seed, the undefeated NC State Wolf Pack or Ice Pack if you prefer, faced the fourth seeded Wake Forest Demon Deacons. Their most recent regular season matchup saw NC State edge Wake in the last minute of the game, so expectations for a competitive rematch were high.
The teams traded mid-period power play opportunities in period one. Wake Forest managed a couple opportunities that Josh Cannon in goal for NC State brushed aside. At the other end Kal Maier was tested repeatedly and made several brilliant stops to keep NC State off the board until late in the period.
Seesaw action continued as both netminders made great saves until with 4:14 left in the period an outlet-pass by Wake forward Jacob Grossman sprung Matthew Solviletti and Andrew Gebhardt on a two on one. Over the blue line and into the offensive zone, a series of back and forth passes created a beautiful goal. Gebhardt had an almost empty net tap in for his goal when Cannon was forced to play Solviletti.
The 1-0 lead lasted only a few minutes as NC State struck back on a power play with 1:18 left in the period. The goal came from the left point off a faceoff. Parker Szarek shuffled the puck through a maze of legs from just below the face off back to the point. Eric Mura buried a one-timer to knot the score.
A late period slashing penalty set up another Ice Pack power play that carried over into period two as Wake killed off the first 34 seconds of the minor penalty. NC State left the ice with a huge 26-9 advantage in shots but with the scoreboard reflecting the 1-1 tie.
Period two started with the Ice Pack on the carryover power play. This advantage was squandered when the Ice Pack took two back to back tripping minors providing Wake with over a minute of five on three advantage and another minute plus of regular extra man hockey. Wake however was unable to generate any real chances as NC State killed both penalties with relative ease.
The back and forth continued until 11:13 when NC State's Riley Johnson stole a puck behind the Wake goal, came out on a wrap-around to the goal line and buried a high shot from a sharp angle over Maier for NC State's first lead at 2-1.
The Ice Pack extended the lead to 3-1 as tenacious forechecking by forward Laythe Jadallah forced a turnover. He was able to poke the puck off the stick of a defenseman, grab it about five feet out, and shuffle board it into the net.
There was no more scoring in the period as Wake killed off another penalty that featured a no goal call on a puck that hit both posts behind the goal tender. Debate on this decision carried over into the intermission, featured a requested replay review after multiple conversations with coaches, players and the goal judge. The initial ruling stood as no goal.
The teams traded goals early in period three as Solviletti scored on the second of two straight power plays. This made it 3-2 at 14:47 after Solviletti was set up by Gebhardt.
The Wake euphoria faded quickly as two straight NC State goals provided the Ice Pack with a 5-2 lead. First Ryan Kinney buried a high shot from the slot at the 13:10 mark off a pass from Tyler Alfonzetti. This was followed by Sam Banasiewicz who at 9:59 picked up and netted a rebound off a shot by Mura.
The Demon Deacons pulled their goalie with about two minutes remaining but couldn’t break through with the extra man. The game ended with NC State outshooting Wake 59-44 and holding on to the 5-2 margin of victory.
Semifinal Game Two- Virginia- 5 vs Georgetown-4
The Virginia Cavaliers stormed back from a two-goal deficit in the third period to eliminate Georgetown and move into the finals against North Carolina State. The Hoyas were unable to answer three straight Cavalier goals as they missed the opportunity to move into the Tournament finals.
Both teams played tentatively at the start of period one as neither team could muster many chances. This changed quickly when Alex Werner from Georgetown caught the puck near his blue line and walked into the high slot and slammed a shot past David Voigt in goal for Virginia.
This first goal coming at 6:35 was followed 36 seconds later by a second Hoya strike. This time Peter Hagerty blasted a shot from about six feet out in front of the net to suddenly create a 2-0 Georgetown lead.
Just as it looked as though the Hoyas were in control, Virginia climbed back into the game with a late period one score. With just a minute and change left Thomas Dale skated right by two defensemen from the far side circle and beat Ty Greenberg one on one for the score. The teams went to their dressing rooms with Georgetown holding on to the 2-1 despite being outshot 16 to 11 in the opening stanza.
Scoring resumed at the 3:09 mark of period two as Georgetown stretched their lead to 3-1 on a shot by Jack Angelini. The Chicago product hammered a high shot while skating into his offensive zone that appeared to catch Voigt by surprise.
Virginia though answered quickly with one of the highlight goals of the tournament.
Josh Katz bulled his way through two defensemen at the far side circle, kept control of the puck and blasted a high shot top shelf to beat Greenberg at 14:17. The highlight reel goal narrowed the lead again to one goal reflected in a 3-2 score.
A deflected puck on a shot from the point restored the Hoyas two goal margin. Nick Gallo hammered a shot into a crowd in front of the Virginia goal. Danny Overcash got his stick on the puck and redirected it low along the ice past Voigt. After 40 minutes the middle period ended 4-2 with Georgetown on a power play that carried over into the final period.
Virginia successfully killed the carryover penalty time with the help of one goal post and a couple of goalie saves as the game moved into the third period. It was then their turn to provide the offense.
It took them five minutes to climb back into a tie. First, they used a power play as Will Thrun beat Greenberg from his left side. Secondly, Thomas Elia scored at the 15:01 mark to tie the game at 4-4. They weren’t finished as Will Thrun struck again at 12:53 giving Virginia a 5-4 lead.
The three goals in a 3:44 time span obviously stunned the higher seeded Hoyas who never seemed to regroup. An undisciplined penalty away from the central play dug the hole a little deeper. This penalty ate up two minutes of the games last 3:33. The Hoyas were finally able to pull their goalie for a sixth attacker with just over a minute left but were unable to tie score falling 5-4.