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Clemson ice hockey scores eight unanswered to defeat Kennesaw State

Ellie Godwin, Provided

Clemson forward Conor Brydges prepares for the next play during a game against Georgia Tech on Oct. 7.

Coming off of a difficult weekend series against Tennessee, the Clemson ice hockey team scored eight unanswered goals to defeat the Kennesaw State Owls 8-3 on Oct. 28.
In the win, the Tigers had a slow first period, as Kennesaw State scored three goals within the first 15 minutes. Down 3-0, Clemson then found its urgency in the final five minutes of the period.
When the game clock hit the 4:37 mark in the first, Clemson left-winger Cade Heinold, assisted by centerman Nicholas Chesare, struck back with a power play goal to get the Tigers on the board.
“We started sloppy… we weren’t really controlling the puck much,” Heinold said. “But once we settled in, got our systems rolling, we started piecing it together. We got kick-started with that goal and then just eight unanswered after that.” 
Three minutes later, forward Conor Brydges scored on a goal assisted by defenseman Thomas Samuelsen and centerman Troy Gouveia, bringing the score to 3-2 at the end of 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 took a penalty for hooking, allowing Gouveia to even the score on the power play.
At the 12:24 mark of the second period, centerman Mike McKeon netted the go-ahead goal for Clemson, assisted by left-winger Jack Owen-Turner and Kopf. 
With 32 seconds left in the second, centerman Ronan Bryant scored for Clemson on a top-shelf shot, assisted by defenseman Conor Petersen. 
Even after the last-minute goal, the Tigers still weren’t finished.
Six seconds later, centerman Patrick O’Brien netted a quick unassisted backhander to give Clemson the 6-3 lead entering the third. 
Brydges, McKeon, Bryant and O’Brien all scored their first goals of the season, and their teammates were very proud.
“We’ve had only like four or five goal scorers this season, so it was nice to see some new faces score,” Heinold said. “Mikey got his first in 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’s) been chugging along all season. It was good to see him get his first. That was awesome.”
As the buzzer sounded at the end of the second period, both teams were pushing and shoving. Clemson left-wingers Liam Clark and Tommy Papa and Kennesaw State’s Aaron Tisdale were sent to the box for roughing to start the third period.
The Owls and the Tigers each took three penalties in the final period, but Clemson made it difficult for Kennesaw State to capitalize on any of its power plays. 
“One of the penalty kills, we applied three or four block shots in a row,” Owen-Turner said. “Sometimes people just remember the goals, but those are the types of moments to us that we remember in the locker room. Guys were putting their bodies on the line… It’s kind of what stuck with me throughout that game.”
Meanwhile, Clemson scored its final two goals on power plays. Chesare, assisted by Kopf, scored with 16:23 remaining. Eight minutes later, Kopf would net the final score for the Tigers with a quick unassisted goal. 
At the 16:31 mark, Gouveia took a two-minute penalty for slashing, immediately followed by a two-minute penalty on defenseman Benjamin Brucker for high-sticking. Clemson’s defense stood strong, fighting off the four-minute Kennesaw State advantage to punctuate a strong defensive game. 
Following two close games against Tennessee, Clemson head Coach John Chesare talked about how important it was for the team to win this game. 
“It’s crucial. Critical, really,” he said. “We’ve told the boys in the locker room that they got to play every game with a sense of urgency. Every game is a must-win from here on out… Every game now moving forward is a must-win at this point.”
And Chesare and his team did just that the next day, as the Tigers defeated Kennesaw State again in a 5-2 win on Oct. 29.
Next up for Clemson will be a home matchup against the University of Georgia on Nov. 18. 

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