The Student News Site of Clemson University

The Tiger

The Tiger

The Tiger

Clemson ice hockey defeats Middle Tennessee, clinches playoff spot

Victoria Adkins
Herb Kopf skates the puck up the ice during Clemson’s outdoor game against Georgia on Jan. 19.

NASHVILLE, TN – The Clemson club ice hockey team defeated the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders 5-4 last Friday and bounced back from a three-goal deficit to tie 6-6 last Saturday.

The Tigers jumped back into the top five of the College Hockey South (CHS) DII conference standings. Securing three points in the series allowed Clemson to punch its ticket to the CHS DII playoffs, which are set to take place this weekend in Huntsville, Alabama.

Like many games this season, Clemson’s Herb Kopf opened the scoring on Friday night, assisted by Oliver Grinkin and Charles DuBose. Middle Tennessee took a penalty just three minutes into the contest for having too many men on the ice, sending Clemson to a power play. While on the man-advantage, Kopf found the back of the net amidst a net-front scramble for the early 1-0 lead.

With 6:44 left in the opening period, the Blue Raiders evened the score at 1-1. However, Clemson reclaimed its lead with 2:15 to spare, courtesy of Thomas Samuelsen. The Captain netted his 12th goal of the season with help from Cade Heinold and Kopf.

Just seconds after Samuelsen’s goal, Ben Brucker struck again for Clemson, marking his first goal of the 2023-24 campaign. Assisted by Christian Romeo and Grinkin, Brucker floated the puck into the net for a 3-1 lead to close the period.

Less than two minutes into the middle frame, Heinold shot bar-down for a goal of his own. The Blue Raiders fought hard for a comeback, scoring two goals after Heinold’s to bring the game within one goal at 4-3. However, Clemson’s Patrick O’Brien sealed the deal with 9:27 left in the period; Brucker and Alex Wallace collected a point on the goal as well.

The only goal of the final frame came from Middle Tennessee to cut Clemson’s lead in half. Despite their efforts, the Blue Raiders could not beat Parker Dietz for the tying goal, and Clemson walked out with the 5-4 victory.

Securing two points from Friday night’s win bought Clemson a spot in the CHS DII playoffs. Despite clinching a playoff spot, the Tigers still came out ready to play the following night.

But so did the Blue Raiders.

The lone goal of the opening period came from Middle Tennessee at 15:49 while Clemson was on the power play. Within the first six minutes of the second, the home team doubled its lead with another shorthanded goal.

Less than a minute later, Troy Gouveia got Clemson on the board, slicing Middle Tennessee’s lead in half. However, it took just the next minute and two seconds for the Blue Raiders to improve their lead from 2-1 to 4-1 with consecutive power-play goals.

Halfway through the middle frame, Sully Kopf kept Clemson in the game with a power play goal, tipping in Samuelsen’s shot from the blue line. The Blue Raiders responded in short order, improving their lead to 5-2.

With 4:03 left in the period, Gouveia threw a hit on a Middle Tennessee player that knocked the glass off one of the boards, forcing the teams to take an early intermission. Clemson didn’t know it then, but that early intermission would swing the momentum in its favor.

Shortly following the teams’ return to the ice, O’Brien netted his third goal in as many games to bring Clemson within two. In a thrilling turn of events for the Tigers, Samuelsen struck again at 4:15, and Wallace followed suit at 6:46 to tie the game at 5-5.

With 6:24 on the clock and palpable anxiety emitting from everyone in the rink, Herb Kopf–assisted by Santiago Diaz–threw the puck top-shelf and past Middle Tennessee’s netminder, solidifying Clemson’s four-goal comeback.

But in those next six minutes, the Blue Raiders found their way around the Tigers once more to tie the score at 6-6 and force overtime.

In a valiant effort to narrowly escape the extra period, Diaz flung the puck into the net with 0.2 seconds left on the clock. Unfortunately for Clemson, it was not ruled a goal, and the additional period commenced shortly after the buzzer.

The five-minute overtime period was scoreless, and the contest finished with a 6-6 score, sending both teams home with one point.

Clemson will travel to Huntsville, Alabama, this weekend to take on the Florida Gators at 8 p.m. CST in round one of the CHS DII playoffs. Spectators can follow along on the CHS YouTube channel live stream.

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Tiger

Your donation will support the student journalists of Clemson University . Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
About the Contributor
Kelly Kaelblein
Kelly Kaelblein, Asst. Sports Editor
Donate to The Tiger

Comments (0)

All The Tiger Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *