For those just stopping in at Canes and Coffee for the first time today, you have some catching up to do on tonight’s match up between the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill Tar Heels and the North Carolina State Wolfpack.
That’s right. A hockey match up at PNC Arena.
If you are red-inclined, find your NCSU-slanted game preview from earlier today HERE.
If you are blue-inclined, find your UNC-slanted game preview from earlier today HERE.
And the companion ‘Coach’s Corner’ article with UNC’s Jeff Volkman is HERE.
If you are catching up on either of the local teams, I also encourage you to check out Carolina Hockey Central for UNC hockey coverage and the NC State Hockey team page for NC State Hockey coverage.
As we build toward puck drop at 7pm at PNC Arena, Canes and Coffee aims to check in with each team’s coach in advance of the big game tonight.
From Mike Gazzillo, Head Coach for NCSU Hockey
Canes and Coffee: How is your team’s 2016-17 season going thus far?
Mike Gazzillo: We are sitting at 500 overall, 9-9-1. In that record we are 5-2-1 in ACC league play. This has been a tough year for us injury wise but the guys are working through it, and I’m proud of them for it.
Canes and Coffee: In addition to the rivalry and bragging rights, what is the significance of Thursday’s game for your team?
Mike Gazzillo: We are getting close to our End Of Season Tournament and looking to fine tune parts of our game. UNC is always a tough opponent and gives me a good read on where we are in preparing for the tourny weekend.
Canes and Coffee: Who is the leadership group for your team and what can you tell me about these players?
Mike Gazzillo: Sam Banasiewicz, Communications major, is our Captain and really has the respect of the guys. He is a true leader on and off the ice. senior Reed Farhat, Chemical Engineering major, is an Assistant Captain and heads our defensive core. He is a true lead by example type player. Chris Wing, Business major, handles our admin affairs and I couldn’t think of a better guy to have doing this. It almost like running a small business and he is an excellent CEO.
Canes and Coffee: Which players lead your team offensively? Which players lead on the defensive side of the puck?
Mike Gazzillo: Sam Banasiewicz and Luis Gimenez-Madill are our top scoring forwards, and Reed Farhat is our defensive leader.
Canes and Coffee: To win on Thursday, my team must ______.
Mike Gazzillo: Stick to the game plan, play for one another, and have fun.
Canes and Coffee: With a familiar opponent, can you name a player or 2 from the opponent that fans should watch?
Mike Gazzillo: They have a few weapons but probably AJ Hamel, and Jonah Graffius.
Canes and Coffee: What is it you hate most about the opposing team and its fans?
Mike Gazzillo: EVERYTHING…kidding, I don’t really hate anything about them, (little known fact, I was an assistant coach at UNC when I first moved down here), the players and fans are as passionate about what they do as we are. I guess if I need something negative it would be that they probably go there because it is easier to remember a school with 3 letters rather than a whole name.
With this final pre-game post, all of the talking is done. Next, the battle between to red of Raleigh and blue of Chapel Hill gets decided on the ice at PNC Arena.