For anyone looking for both an inexpensive and fun hockey-related activity for Thursday night and also a chance to support local hockey, PNC Arena at 7pm is your place.
Simple – 7pm / PNC Arena / $5
At the home of our beloved Carolina Hurricanes, the North Carolina State men’s hockey team will face its arch rivals from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. No tickets are required and admission is free (though a $5 donation is requested) with choice of seats much better than you can get for a Hurricanes game for less than $50. It is really pretty simple. Deck yourself out in your choice of Wolfpack red or Tar Heel blue. Grab $5 (parking is also free). Head to PNC Arena in time for the 7pm start or to mingle earlier with doors opening around 6pm.
Canes and Coffee coverage and also hope to meet a few people
Canes and Coffee will be running a short series of articles today previewing the game. Matt, Cory and Andrew (with official duties covering the game for the Technician) will be in attendance for Canes and Coffee. Specific details are pending, but my hope is to get their early and post a quick heads up on my location on Twitter in hopes using the event to meet a few more people from our Canes hockey community and Twittersphere.
From the red side – NC State Wolfpack hockey
Chiming in first from the red side for the Wolfpack nation is Drew Blevins. Drew is the play-by-play voice of the NC State Wolfpack hockey team. He is in his fourth season with the Pack. After playing 13 seasons with the Carolina Jr. Hurricanes, Blevins is happy to be calling games because it’s a way to stay around the sport he loves.
Canes and Coffee: In addition to the rivalry and bragging rights, what does NC State have on the line in Thursday’s match up against UNC?
Drew Blevins: The game is in essence an exhibition game as the ACCHL does not count this for points because these two teams are in different divisions. The big thing that I believe is at stake is visibility. These teams do not recruit, and there is not a lot of high level marketing, so a win in PNC Arena would be huge for either side. Momentum is also huge, Carolina has won six of their last seven and State has won four of their last six. Heading into the ACCHL Tournament, a win tomorrow night could give an edge to either side.
Canes and Coffee: How would you describe NC State’s style of play?
Drew Blevins: It’s very fast and based on what the offense can do. State has the best top line in ACC Hockey, and often they shoulder the load for scoring the puck. State lost four senior defensemen last year, so it’s hard to rely on a young D-corps. However, the catch to that is if an opponent stops the top line, there isn’t a lot of depth scoring. The top line of Sam Banasiewicz, Will Biberdorf, and Luis Giminez has accounted for 85% the team’sl offense this season.
Canes and Coffee: Which players lead the 2016-17 NC State squad?
Drew Blevins: As noted above, the players on the top line are critical. Banasiewicz is the captain and catalyst of the team. He missed six games at the end of the first semester due to a lower body injury and the team averaged just 2 goals a game in that stretch. Since his return, he has at least a point in every game since including three multi-goal games. Giminez is the leading scorer with 33 points, but he’s a pass first guy who often feeds Sam. In net tomorrow is Joey Hall, a sophomore who is similar is style to Dominik Hasek. He flops all around with erratic movement, but he makes saves. Defensively, Reed Farhat and Chris Wing are the only upperclass defensemen who have played more than one year with the Wolfpack. They are the top and most reliable defense pairing.
Canes and Coffee: How is NC State’s 2016-17 season going so far?
Drew Blevins: State is 9-1-1 with a 5-2-1 record in ACCHL play. State lost their most recent contest to Wake Forest (4-1 on Saturday). The team suffered a lot of injuries at the beginning of the year ending the first semester at 5-7-1. However State upset (7) Louisville and (17) Virginia Tech in the same weekend to open the semester. Also, the team scoring has picked up too with State averages 4.6 goals for in the second semester.
Canes and Coffee: On the opposing bench, what does UNC bring to the game that NC State must counter to be successful in Thursday’s game?
Drew Blevins: Carolina is physical and State doesn’t always respond well to being hit. All of State’s opponents who have outhit the Wolfpack have either won or State had squeaked out a one-goal win. Not only does checking disrupt the Wolfpack offense, it would seem as though there is a lack of physical presence for the Pack, meaning they can’t push anyone around themselves.
Canes and Coffee: To win this big rivalry game, NC State must ________.
Drew Blevins: Start fast and end fast. State has a major issue playing 60 minutes, and it’s been costly. The Wolfpack do not start well, they have trailed in five of six games this semester. It is critical that State finds a way to be productive in the first period and preferably score first if they want to stave off a gritty UNC squad.
Canes and Coffee: Is there anything else that fans should consider as they prepare to watch this game?
Drew Blevins: These guys are not recruited. These guys are not on scholarship. These guys play purely for the love of the game. It’s pure, unadulterated joy for hockey that showcases itself nightly in the ACCHL and this rivalry is the same way. A lot of these guys played with or against each other and half of both rosters are products of North Carolina youth hockey programs across the state. The high level of play on display tomorrow night should illustrate the success of hockey taking hold in this area. Fans should come willing to enjoy a treat of athletic excellence and a great rivalry on the ice.
Canes and Coffee would like to extend a huge thank you to Drew for sharing his knowledge of NC State hockey!
Go NC State! (for this article at least :-))