South Carolina’s hockey team faced Liberty University last weekend with full force and a lot of intensity.
After two nights of games, 19 combined goals and 56 combined penalties, both games were full of excitement.
South Carolina won Friday night 7-6 but fell to Liberty Saturday night 4-2, failing to score early.
The Gamecocks are now 12-11-2 for the season and currently ranked No. 5 in the American Collegiate Hockey Association D3 South Regional rankings.
Sophomore Julian Dipaolo had two strong nights. Friday night, he gave the Gamecocks their first two goals and helped the team catch up and tie Liberty in the first period.
“I’m sure that helped everyone get going in the right direction, but it wasn’t anything I did, it just happened to be me to score first,” Dipaolo said. “We had momentum the whole game and everyone was working hard. I just happened to be the one to get the goals.”
Friday’s game had a total of 34 penalties, half of those coming from South Carolina players. Although this can lead to fun and exciting moments for fans, it did not give the teams enough time to play good hockey.
“I don’t really think it was a real hockey game,” coach Mike Lee said. “But I’m glad we pulled through with a win from it. I’m hoping tomorrow we can play real hockey.”
Both teams went into Saturday’s game with a fresh mindset. The Gamecocks came out strong, but Liberty played harder. Intensity was still high, penalties continued to rack up and both teams played solid offense and defense. South Carolina had plenty of opportunities, taking 50 shots, but Liberty goalie Pat Cormack made save after save, only allowing two goals.
Senior Mike Foster and junior Mike Kochenash scored late in the third period for an attempted comeback, but it wasn’t enough for the win.
“Today, we gave it everything we had,” Dipaolo said. “Their goalie had just an unbelievable game.”
South Carolina also had good defense, with goalie John Musciano saving 27 of Liberty’s 31 shots on goal.
Lee was more satisfied with his team after Saturday’s game than the night before.
“We definitely played better hockey tonight,” Lee said. “We played much straighter than last night, but at the end of the day, the penalties still killed us.”
The Gamecocks worked hard, but spent too much time in the penalty box. With SEC opponent Florida coming up this weekend, the team needs to play more disciplined.
“At this point, it’s more about discipline,” Lee said. “We solved one problem, we just need to solve the other. We need to get to practice, work hard and get ready for the next game.”