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Clemson ice hockey improves to 3-2 with explosive second period vs. Georgia Tech

Provided by Ellie Godwin

Clemson ice hockey goalie JP Kerney stands with his team during the Tigers’ match against Georgia Tech on Oct. 7, 2022. 

Propelled by a strong second period, the Clemson club ice hockey team improved its record to 3-2 after a win over the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets on Friday, Oct. 7. 
Following a dominating 10-4 win over the College of Charleston late last month, the Tigers carried that momentum into their game on Friday. 
The majority of the first period lacked action from both teams–including an unsuccessful power play by Clemson, but Georgia Tech captain Matthew Connelly scored on a quick net-front opportunity with less than four minutes left in the period, giving the Yellow Jackets the lead. 
While Clemson was unable to score in the first period, the Clemson centerman Mike McKeon and the Tigers utilized the first intermission to get their mindsets right for the remainder of the game. 
“We knew what we had to do,” McKeon said. “We had a good first period. We just let one get in behind us. But we knew if we kept up with our game, played our game, we were going to get some goals, and we stuck with it.” 
Going into the second period, the Tigers did not allow the Yellow Jackets’ score to dictate their performance. Within the first two minutes, Clemson centerman Graydon Schweizer tied the game with a quick rush into Georgia Tech’s zone. Defenseman Christian Romeo assisted Schweizer’s score, which immediately shifted the momentum in Clemson’s favor. 
“We were trying to keep things positive all throughout,” Clemson left-winger Sully Kopf said. “We knew that (the goals) would all start coming in a matter of time.” 
Two minutes after Schweizer’s goal, Clemson defenseman Nicholas Chesare netted the go-ahead goal, which was assisted by left-winger Cade Heinold.
At the 13:30 mark in the second period, Georgia Tech received a penalty for tripping, giving Clemson its second power play of the night. 
Unlike their first period power play, the Tigers were able to capitalize on the man advantage, making the score 3-1 on a shot from defenseman Thomas Samuelsen. Heinold assisted the goal, giving the left-winger his second point of the night.
However, it wasn’t just the Yellow Jacket’s penalty-killing unit being tested during the game. Following the team’s third goal, Clemson right-winger Herbert Kopf received a major penalty for kneeing, resulting in a five-minute power play for Georgia Tech. 
The Tigers held off Georgia Tech for the entire five minutes with a tenacious defense and entered the third period maintaining their 3-1 lead. 
“I think we showed a lot of determination tonight,” McKeon said.
The final period mirrored the second. Clemson struck again in the first three minutes, as centerman Troy Gouveia scored the team’s fourth and final goal of the game at 17:52 mark. 
“It was a really complete game for us, probably our most complete game of the year. I thought we played pretty much 100% all the way from start to finish,” McKeon said. 
It was a notable game for Clemson goalie JP Kerney, who saved 19 of 20 shots from the Yellow Jacket offense. 
“Our goalie played great. He made a lot of great saves today,” Kopf said. 
The Tigers believe this game will be a step in the right direction for the team. They plan to carry the momentum from this win into their next matchup against Tennessee on Friday in Knoxville, Tenn.
“I think we’re starting to click, and it’s going to be good for us,” McKeon said.

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