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Kopf and Heinold lead Clemson club ice hockey to a dominant sweep over Florida State

Leah Marie Pereira
Herb Kopf celebrates his second goal with his teammates during Clemson’s game against Florida State on Sept. 22.

The Clemson club ice hockey team secured its first two wins of the season in a dominant sweep over Florida State last weekend, 13-4 and 4-1. Propelled by the efforts of forwards Herb Kopf and Cade Heinold, each of whom recorded a hat trick during the first game, the Tigers sent the Seminoles packing.

After opening the season with a loss to Georgia, Clemson went into the weekend with high hopes of earning a winning record.

“I’m most confident in our ability to bounce back,” defender Conor Peterson said before the first game of the series on Friday, Sept. 22. “When we’re playing the right style of hockey, we’re a hard team to play against. I think that will show this weekend.”

True to their word, Heinold and Kopf netted three goals each. Heinold scored his first two goals in the opening period: one at the 6:06 mark, the next on a power play barely a minute and a half later and the third came with 29 seconds left in the game.

Kopf tallied all three of his goals on the power play: the first during the opening period, while the other two were consecutive goals during the second. He now leads the team in points with seven in just three games.

Kopf noted that this “might’ve been” his first career hat trick. It “felt pretty good,” he said.

Though it wasn’t Heinold’s first career hat trick, he was equally as pleased with his performance.

“It felt good. In the first game against Georgia, I missed a bunch of open chances. So it was nice to bury those goals. It felt really good,” he said.

Clemson’s 13-4 win was nothing if not a team effort, as nine different Tigers recorded at least one goal. Two recent additions to the team, Alex Wallace and Callum Chaye, recorded their first career goals. Charles Dubose, Christian Romeo, Brian Blomquist, Patrick O’Brien and Thomas Samuelsen also recorded goals for Clemson on Friday.

The Tigers’ 4-1 win in Game 2 on Sunday started with a goal from Peterson, which was followed by goals from Ronan Bryant, Heinold and Samuelsen to solidify the sweep.

“We’re starting to gel as the season starts to go on,” Heinold said. “We didn’t score many goals against Georgia, so it was just nice to get a bunch of goals under our belt. I think we’re gonna carry that momentum.”

Despite their impressive performance, the Tigers acknowledge that there’s always work to be done, especially so early in the season.

In preparation for their first away series against Coastal Carolina next weekend, the Tigers plan to work on their defensive zone coverage, cleaning up the power play and tightening up passes in the neutral zone.

“We played better at the end,” Kopf said referring to Game 1. “Had a little fire under (us), but before that, we were kind of sloppy. We’ll try to clean that up.”

Clemson went six for nine on the power play on Friday but couldn’t capitalize on any of its seven power plays on Sunday.

“Our power play looked really, really good in the first game. We scored every time we were out there, pretty much, ” Heinold said. “And today (in Game 2), we just couldn’t get it to work.”

Looking ahead, Clemson will hit the road next weekend for its first away series against the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers. Last season, the Tigers were 1-1-0 against the Chanticleers. They lost 6-1 in their first game but bounced back the next day to win 5-4 in an overtime thriller.

Clemson’s assertive performance against the Seminoles has instilled a necessary confidence in the team that they lacked against Georgia in the season opener. After such a dominant win, the Tigers realized that the sky’s the limit for them this season, and they believe that future opponents will recognize just how dangerous they are.

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Kelly Kaelblein
Kelly Kaelblein, Asst. Sports Editor
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    Josiah Sullivan Sep 30, 2023 at 9:33 pm

    Nice! Very interesting read!