ACCHL Tournament: Wake Forest Wins OT Thriller To Advance

Winston-Salem, NC - The third game of the opening round of the ACCHL Championship Tournament featured the 4th seeded Wake Forest Demon Deacons against the 5th seeded UNC-Charlotte 49ers. The tournament seedings predicted a tight and even game and it was with the Demon Deacons edging Charlotte 3-2 in overtime to earn the third semifinal berth in games set for Saturday afternoon.

Period one while scoreless, saw Wake Forest dominate the period. The difference in this period was the goaltending effort by Frederic Beaulieu who hails from Montreal, Quebec. He stopped all 16 shots in the first period making a couple of sparkling saves when Wake Forest was on the power play. In turn, his opponent in goal for Wake Forest Kal Maier, was lightly tested facing only three shots in the first 20 minutes.

Wake Forest continued to press but were stonewalled by Beaulieu on two good early second period chances. Meanwhile, Charlotte didn’t manage a shot on goal for the first four and half minutes in period two.

A minor penalty for cross checking away from the play gave the Demon Deacons their second power play and they capitalized at 12:34. Nick Keroack converted a rebound off a shot by MacRae Robertson. Jennings Lobel picked up the second assist on the first goal of the game.

Charlotte or more correctly forward Andrew Miller broke through with two goals within a minute to give the 49ers a 2-1 lead. First, Miller who was named the ACCHL forward of the year for the regular season during pregame, jumped on a loose puck after Wake Forest couldn’t clear the goal and blasted it glove side past the Demon Deacons goaltender. Within a minute he duplicated the first goal with a similar effort on another defensive mistake. Miller drove the net fooled the defense and tucked the puck in on the short side. Greg Driscoll and Chase Wiriden assisted on the first tally while Zach Broskey contributed to the second strike.

In short order, momentum shifted again as the Demon Deacons stepped up their urgency. A beautiful pad pass left Andrew Gebhardt open about eight feet in front of the net and he tied the game. Brendan Gregoire provided the setup assist. This score came with 2:34 left in period two and sent the two teams into the intermission deadlocked 2-2 despite a wide disparity in shot totals of 40-12 favoring Wake Forest.

Beaulieu continued to keep the Demon Deacons at bay in the third period as they peppered him with six shots and hit a goal post. At the other end Maier was especially strong on a mid-period Charlotte power play and near the end of the period making multiple saves. Each goalie faced double digit shots in the third regulation period but neither team could break through and a scoreless third period sent the game into overtime.

A tripping penalty at the 5:27 mark of overtime gave Charlotte a four on three power play. Again, goaltending was the difference as Maier stood his ground in the face of tremendous pressure and Wake Forest survived the man disadvantage.

A few minutes later the game ended suddenly. The end came at 2:30 in OT on the 63rd shot by Wake Forest in the game. The winning goal came after several stabs at the puck lying near the crease by Gebhardt. He eventually slipped his third attempt past Beaulieu in heavy traffic to send the hosts on to the semifinals and send Charlotte home with the loss.