The Colonials entered last year's offseason with a goal of putting together its most competitive schedule since moving to D2, but even with that goal in mind, 2nd weekend matchups against NC State and Virginia Tech - two Southeast Region and ACCHL powerhouses - seemed like a tall order. But when the weekend was over, GW had met the challenge.
On Friday, 9/29, GW hosted NC State at Kettler in a rematch of last year's 2nd-round ACCHL playoff matchup (not to mention the ACCHL championship game from two seasons ago). Grad forward Kevin Zhang opened the scoring just 3 minutes into the contest, but at the halfway mark of the period NC State would take the lead with two goals. Zhang would get his second goal of the game just minutes later, and they teams would go into the second tied 2-2. NCState again jumped out to a lead with a goal in the opening minute of the second, and then another goal at the halfway point. GW would respond right back, first with Zhang completing the hattrick and the freshmen forward Justin Storer getting his first as a Colonial on a great wrap-around play. The teams would again end the period tied, now 4-4. The first ten minutes of the third period proved tense, with scoring at a standstill, but sophomore forward Alec Yerkovich would tip a shot by freshman defenseman Sam Kirby into the net on the power play to give GW their first lead since early in the first. Despite a slew of penalties by GW late in the third, and a big push by NC State, GW would hold NC State off the scoreboard, and senior forward Alec Weinberg would net the empty netter to ice the game at 6-4. Junior goalie Alec Astorga would get the win in net, stopping a whopping 56 out of 60 shots.
The next night, GW sought to avenge the 4-1 loss they suffered at the ACHA Southeast Regional playoffs in 2016, taking on Virginia Tech at Prince William. The first period was all GW, with 3 goals in the first 5 minutes by junior forward Brian Sargent, Weinberg, and A. Yerkovich. With five minutes to go, A. Yerkovich would get his second of the night and GW would take a 4-0 lead into the second. Virginia Tech finally got onto the board very early in the second, but A. Yerkovich would finish the hattrick at the twelve-minute mark to restore GW's four-goal lead to take a 5-1 score into the third. The teams would exchange goals again in the third, with Virginia Tech scoring first and Weinberg responding with five-minutes to go. Final score GW 6, Virginia Tech 2. Senior goalie Corey Nadell would get the win in net, stopping 37 of 39 shots.
GW heads to North Carolina next weekend for the annual Stephen Russell Tournament where they will face Elon, High Point, and Wake Forest.
Photo credit: Matt Ricciardi