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How is the Clemson ice hockey team doing so far?

Ellie Goodwin, Provided

The Tigers skate toward center ice to celebrate their 4-1 win over Georgia Tech on Oct. 7.

Two months into the 2022-23 season, the Clemson ice hockey team is ranked 15th out of 28 teams in the College Hockey South (CHS) conference with a record of 5-5.
Clemson opened the season with a 4-3 win vs. Christopher Newport University on Sept. 16, when defenseman Thomas Samuelsen scored the first two goals to start the season. The start propelled him to become Clemson’s second-leading goal-scorer through the first 10 games of the season with seven scores.
The Tigers lost the rematch to Christopher Newport the following day by a score of 5-2. Clemson then traveled to the College of Charleston for a weekend series against the Cougars.
In the first game, the College of Charleston was able to control the game, shutting out the Tigers 5-0.
Putting the game behind them, Clemson bounced back in game two, winning 10-4.
Centerman Nicholas Chesare and left-winger Cade Heinold’s displayed their offensive dominance, as they scored four points each in the Tigers’ win.
Chesare netted a hat trick and had an assist. Heinold assisted on two of Chesare’s goals while also netting a goal of his own.
Defensemen Brian Blomquist and Benjamin Brucker both made their presence known in the win as well, each notching three points.
Heading into the fifth game of the season against Georgia Tech on Oct. 7, Clemson held a .500 record before besting the Yellow Jackets 4-1, improving to 3-2. 
Following the Georgia Tech win, Clemson traveled to Knoxville to take on the Tennessee Volunteers in another weekend series. 
Game one took place on Oct. 14, and in the high-scoring competition, the Tigers fell short, 9-8. In the contest, Samuelsen and Heinold had two goals apiece, with Chesare scoring the final goal for the Tigers. 
“Our team has so much skill, but we just need to work on tightening up our systems,” Heinold said. “We have had trouble scoring at times when we outshoot and outplay teams… but when our offense is buzzing, the goals will come.”
In the rematch two days later, the Tigers’ defense failed to hold off Tennessee’s offensive attack, losing 4-2 and bringing Clemson’s record to 3-4 on the season.
Clemson’s seventh game displayed improvements on the defensive end, but it was not enough to secure a win.
“(We can improve) in the D-zone,” Chesare said. “We’ve given up a lot of scoring chances in the slot and (need to be) more patient with the puck.” 
Two weeks later, Clemson discovered its defensive willpower as it took on Kennesaw State at home on Oct. 28-29. The Tigers defeated the Owls two days in a row, with 8-3 and 5-2 victories. In the 8-3 win, Clemson scored eight unanswered goals after trailing early — perseverance that Heinold believes has benefited the Tigers this season.
“Our team thrives off of energy, and when we are down, we just need that extra boost to get us back in the game,” Heinold said. “Personally, I have been trying really hard to keep our team in games and always focused on what’s ahead.”
However, Clemson was unable to carry the momentum after the Kennesaw State series into their first cross-state rivalry matchup of the season against South Carolina, falling short to the Gamecocks 5-4.
Looking at the overall season so far, a common theme for this year’s team has been how they’ve faired when on the power play.
The team has 16 power-play goals this season, ranking seventh in the CHS. Five have come from Heinold and four from Chesare. 
“I think our power play has been doing very well,” Chesare said. “We’ve scored a power-play goal in all but one game.”
Over ten games, Heinold has asserted himself as a solid offensive force. He has 14 points, averaging 1.4 points per game and leading the team in assists with eight. 
Like Heinold, Chesare has also been an integral part of the offense, collecting 14 points and leading the team with nine goals.
Clemson currently sits with a record of 5-5 on the season, but the team knows they are capable of playing at a higher level.
“Our record does not resemble how good our team really is,” Heinold said. “We have a lot of skill in our locker room. It’s just a matter of time before our team really starts to come together and starts winning games.” 
Looking forward, the team is hoping to make it to College Hockey Federation nationals, scheduled for the week of Mar. 10, 2023, in West Chester, Pennsylvania.
“I’m really excited for what’s in store for the rest of the season. We are a super tight group of guys, and we are putting this first stretch of the season in the past.” Heinold said. “We have been taking some time to come together as a team and really focus on what we need to do to make it to playoffs. I think our team is about to put all the pieces together to make a strong playoff push.”

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