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Clemson ice hockey team defeated by South Carolina in rivalry series

Ellie Godwin // Provided

Defenseman Conor Peterson (21) awaits a face-off from Mike McKeon (29) against South Carolina on Jan. 28, 2023. 

The Clemson ice hockey team lost its final regular season matchup of the 2022-23 season against rival South Carolina by a score of 8-5 on Friday. Despite the unfortunate result, the Tigers are proud of their performance as a team. 

Centermen Nicholas Chesare, Mike McKeon, John McKeon and left-winger Cade Heinold scored for the Tigers. Chesare and Heinold finished the regular season as Clemson’s point leaders, with 27 and 24 goals, respectively. 

South Carolina struck first on a shot from centerman Julian Reiss less than four minutes into the game. 

Later in the first period, Clemson defender Christian Romeo was helped off the ice with an injury. He did not return to the game, and the Tigers used their wounded teammate as ammunition. Just a minute later, Chesare evened the score on a power play. 

With 3:31 left in the period, the Gamecocks reclaimed the lead to enter the second ahead 2-1. Five minutes in, they scored again for a two-goal lead.

Soon after, Clemson received a huge break: South Carolina left-winger Marco Pineda took a major penalty for boarding, giving the Tigers a five-minute power play.

While up on a man advantage, Mike McKeon netted two goals to tie the score at 3-3. The first tally was unassisted, and left-winger Thomas Papa and centerman Troy Gouveia recorded the assists on the second with 4:36 to go. 

Clemson capitalized on its momentum and took a 4-3 lead towards the end of the second period as John McKeon netted another for the Tigers with an assist from centerman Patrick O’Brien. The period would not end without another Gamecock goal, though, as forward Dylan Greeley tied the score with 0:02 left in the period. 

With twenty minutes to play and a tie score, the Tigers fought relentlessly to the end. 

The first goal of the final period came from South Carolina, and just a few minutes later, the Gamecocks were awarded a penalty shot which gave them a 6-4 lead.

The Tigers were not finished giving their all. With under ten minutes left, Chesare assisted Heinold to net Clemson’s fifth and final goal of the night. 

Clemson went all out to force overtime in the final two minutes, even pulling goaltender Josh Bailey to add an extra attacker. Unfortunately for the Tigers, South Carolina took advantage of the empty net twice in the last minute to win the match by three. 

Looking ahead, No. 31 Clemson will travel to West Chester, Pennsylvania, from March 10 through 15 to compete against No. 2 Niagara, No. 15 Penn State Harrisburg and No. 23 Fredonia State in their first-ever AAU Nationals appearance.

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Kelly Kaelblein
Kelly Kaelblein, Asst. Sports Editor
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