The Daily Gamecock

Analysis: South Carolina club hockey splits series against Ole Miss, moves up in CHS standings

<p>South Carolina club hockey players celebrate a goal.&nbsp;</p>
South Carolina club hockey players celebrate a goal. 

The South Carolina club hockey team is 7-3-2 (16 points) in the SEC after its weekend against the Ole Miss club hockey team (8-4-0, 16 points), where it came away with 3 of 4 possible points after winning one of two games.

Game 1

The Gamecocks had a sloppy first game against the Ole Miss Rebels, losing 5-4 in a shootout. 

South Carolina gave up three quick goals, prompting head coach Sirois to pull junior goalie Liam Gormley and sub-in junior goalie Tripp Russell. Russell gave up one quick goal, but soon found his footing on the ice.

“I just want to go in there and give my team a chance to win,” Russell said. “I’m not trying to put too many expectations on myself."

The intermission proved to be a much-needed break for the Gamecocks. The team came out of the locker room showing more aggression, getting big hits in open ice and on the walls. 

On the other end of the ice, South Carolina had many opportunities to score off a rebound, but each time, there was no one there to bury the puck. 

“We simply need to want it more,” junior forward Julian Reiss said. “In terms of getting in front of the net and just bearing down on your stick, that’s how you score goals in front."

Before the period finished, senior forward Cam Mecca managed to get two goals back for the Gamecocks to bring the score to 4-2 before the second intermission. 

The Gamecocks came out swinging in the third period with aggressive and persistent shots with more big hits, but, the Ole Miss goalie, senior Cameron Parent, proved to be up for the challenge. On the other end of the ice, Russell stayed staunch and did not allow another goal for the rest of regulation. 

Late in the third period, the Gamecocks notched two more goals by sophomore defensive player Robert Dicicco and senior forward Ronan Egan to tie the game up 4-4. The latter goal was scored with 17 seconds left in the game, forcing overtime.

The Gamecocks picked up right where it left off in overtime, continuing to be aggressive and making hits when necessary. Russell stopped every shot that came his way, forcing a shoot-out. 

Ole Miss netted two goals in four frames while the Gamecocks were only able to bury one. 

Despite South Carolina's best efforts, it still came up short because of its "worst first period the year," head coach Allan Sirois said. 

Game 2

The Gamecocks started the second game strong with a dominant defense that largely kept Ole Miss out of it its offensive zone, leading to a 5-2 win. 

The Gamecocks outshot the Rebels 20-6 after the first period. However, the game was scoreless after the first period.

South Carolina started the second period with less aggression, but better control of the puck. The team largely kept the puck in its own offensive zone, while only allowing a few possessions by the Rebels until South Carolina scored.

However, the Rebels got one back less than a minute later, tying the game at one. The Gamecocks continued to keep up its play of controlling the puck for the rest of period, with senior forward Luke Rudman scoring one more for South Carolina after sitting out the last two weeks to make it 2-1.  The Rebels then tied it on a powerplay goal to end the second period. 

The third period was the strongest period for the Gamecocks. It continued to control the puck in five-on-five play as well as on the power play. South Carolina netted three goals total in the third while keeping the Rebels quiet and not allowing them to net one in the final frame. 

The Gamecocks came away with 3 of 4 possible points this weekend while they contend for a playoff spot.

“This was huge,” said assistant head coach Jon Kokkelenber said. “Last night really didn’t start how we wanted, but we finished strong. And then tonight, the boys came together, and they played all 60 minutes tonight.” 

What’s next?

The South Carolina club hockey team looks to move further up the College Hockey South (CHS) standings with their two games against Clemson on Feb. 18 and Feb. 19.