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September 25, 2023

Clemson ice hockey closes out fall semester with loss to Georgia

Ellie Godwin, Provided
Clemson defenseman Ben Brucker gears up for a slapshot against Georgia Tech on Oct. 7, 2022. 

The Clemson ice hockey team lost its final game of the fall semester to the Georgia Bulldogs in Athens, Georgia, last Friday by a score of 3-2. 

The Bulldogs came out swinging, scoring the first period’s only goal within the first 12 seconds of the game. As Georgia fans tossed teddy bears onto the ice in celebration, Clemson knew this game would be a challenge.

With momentum already on its side, Georgia increased the lead to 2-0 with 13:05 remaining in the second period. 

But the Tigers didn’t go away. 

About three minutes after the Bulldogs’ second goal of the game, centerman Nick Chesare, assisted by left-winger Sully Kopf, scored on a breakaway, bringing the score to 2-1 entering the final period.

Less than three minutes into the third, though, Georgia defenseman Lleyton Poole scored the game-sealing goal for the Bulldogs. 

With two minutes left in the third period, left-winger Cade Heinold did all he could to propel a late comeback with a net-front goal assisted by Chesare. Still, the early two-goal deficit was too much to overcome, and Clemson moved to 5-7 on the season. 

“We have to work on not clogging up our own zone,” centerman Troy Gouveia said after the match. “We run into each other, and we’re not playing disciplined where we can easily break the puck out. Georgia pickpocketed almost half of our breakouts every time we tried to get out. It just starts with discipline.”

The third period featured no penalties. Of 12 games played during the semester, this was the Tigers’ second game without a penalty in the final period. 

The team will need to look inward as the Tigers look forward to a break before play resumes in January. 

“It’s going to be good,” Gouveia said. “We’re all going to go on for break, reset, and I think we’re going to come out firing in the second half. We need to.”

Others also reiterated Gouveia’s sentiments, as right-winger Herbert Kopf knows there is room for improvement. 

“The effort was there, and we played pretty well,” Herbert Kopf said. “But we lost three straight by one goal, so we’ve got to figure something out.”

In their third consecutive loss by one goal, the Tigers know where they must improve: discipline.

“We have the effort,” Gouveia said. “We have the goal scorers, we have the players, we have the numbers, but we have to play three full periods. We can’t take a period off. It’s got to be a full (60) minutes. And when we have that, it gives us a better chance to win.”

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