The Daily Gamecock

Analysis: South Carolina club hockey takes home opener over College of Charleston

<p>Defender Sean Reid (#5) waiting for the face off at the South Carolina club hockey match vs. College of Charleston on Sep. 16, 2022.</p>
Defender Sean Reid (#5) waiting for the face off at the South Carolina club hockey match vs. College of Charleston on Sep. 16, 2022.

The South Carolina club hockey team defeated College of Charleston 3-1 in its home opener on Friday night. 

Even though the team found the result, it struggled on the attacking side, scoring three goals out of 67 shots.

“We got to work on our finishing a little bit,” sophomore winger Tommy Lokken said. "That's an opponent we should be able to put up a lot more than three goals on."

A highlight of the night came from freshman defenseman Brendan Flaherty, who was able to score the first goal of his career in front of an excited crowd. 

"I took the shot, and this place went wild. It was electric," said Flaherty, describing the crowd's reaction to his wrist shot in the second period.

Despite the low number of goals, Flaherty and the team were excited about the win over an in-state rival. 

"It's awesome, I mean, they travel here to play us," Flaherty said. "They come in our barn and we can't let them run the game."

Another bright spot in the South Carolina lineup was goaltender Zach Hayes who helped keep the Gamecocks alive most of the night. His best play of the game came at the end of the first period when he made an off-balance save to keep the game at 1-0 in favor of South Carolina. 

In addition to solid goaltending, the Gamecocks did not allow many possessions for the Cougars, allowing only eight shots on goal through the first two periods. South Carolina only conceded a goal with seven and a half minutes left in the final period. 

Each year, the team brings on a new batch of rookies. Hayes explained how he is optimistic about the four new additions to the team. The additions include freshmen defensemen Brendan Flaherty, center Jake Puskar, winger Garrett Albers and defensemen Ben Riccitelli. 

"We got a lot of new defensemen who are vey good, and a lot of new forwards too," Hayes said. 

Hayes also mentioned last year's loss in the bronze medal game of the CHF Cup has molded the team's mentality going into this season. 

"A lot of these guys how a chip on their shoulder," Hayes said. "Our team is a lot better — got a lot more talent. I don't know how other teams are looking but I guarantee you, we're a top-five team."

Up next, the team looks to continue its winning streak at home when it hosts the Georgia Bulldogs on Sept. 23 at 8:30 p.m. at Flight Adventure Park.