The Colonials returned to Charlottesville this past weekend with visions of repeat in their minds, but after coming up against a surging NC State program, they'll have to wait another year in hopes of Raising High.
On Friday, #3 GW faced their first round opponent #6 UNC. GW was slated to play UNC in the Stephen Russell Tournament, but the game was cancelled due to a rink flood, meaning the teams had not seen each other this season. There wasn't any hesitation in GW's game though as they poured 27 shots on the UNC goalie resulting in five goals from freshman forward Alec Yerkovich, junior forward Alec Weinberg, grad student forward Nick Ryan, sophomore forward Will Yerkovich, and grad student forward Kevin Zhang. Alec Astorga would stop all 35 shots he faced to get his first shutout as a Colonial. Before the game, senior forward Jake Lessick was honored as ACCHL Forward MVP and junior defenseman Austin Fruchter was honored as the ACCHL Student-Athelete-of-the-Year.
Thanks to an upset win by #7 JMU over #2 Wake Forest, GW would take on #5 NC State - a rematch of last year's final. NC State's unlikely position as the 5th seed was due to a slew of injuries that plagued them all season from their first weekend of play. Sure enough, those players were all back and NC State had been surging down the stretch including a win over #4 UNC-Charlotte the night before.
The teams battled for the first half of the period, with no one able to score until NC State potted a powerplay goal at the halfway mark. NC State would get another just before the period ended to take a 2-0 lead into the dressing room. GW would finally find their scoring touch in the second getting two goals from GW's grad students Nick Ryan and Kevin Zhang. NC State would respond to each goal, including a shorthanded goal on a 5-minute-kill late in the second, which seemed to be the end for GW. NC State would get 2 more goals in the third, and only give up 7 shots to finish the game 6-2 and move on to the finals, where they would lose to UVA 5-1.
The coaching staff would like to recognize all of the players on another great season, especially Jake Lessick and Kevin Zhang who will be graduating after this season. The team would also like to thank all of their family, friends, fans, and school/league administrators. See you next season!
Photo Credit: S. Walley