The Bullets have had some success so far this season but their determination and their stamina would be tested as they would head south for a tournament hosted by the University of North Carolina. Originally, Gettysburg had simply intended to arrive in NC on Friday evening for their two games on Saturday and final game of the tournament on Sunday. However, Wednesday after practice the team was contacted by Virginia Tech. The Hokies had a last minute cancelation for Friday night and asked if Gettysburg would fill that spot on their way down to NC. Hoping this would be a chance to play a nationally ranked team and a very good warm up for the tournament the Bullets agreed to leave a little earlier on Friday and take on VT.
After arriving at the historic Roanoke Civic Center, going through a complete pregame ritual, the game finally got underway and the Bullets started strong. Minutes in, freshman Eric Miller hit senior captain Niall Hines in stride and Hines ripped a wrist shot top corner for the early one goal lead. Late in the period the Hokies were able to sneak two past sophomore goaltender Jon Lipshutz taking the lead in to intermission. Virginia Tech struck first in the second period for the two goal lead. However, on an ensuing powerplay, sophomore Zak Kennedy buried a shot to pull the Bullets within one. The Hokies then began wearing down the Bullets and kept a dump and chase game plan for the remainder of the game. They netted two more goals before the end of the period. The final period started with a VT powerplay and they capitalized giving them a comfortable 6-2 lead. But the Bullets’ determination continued as junior Hunter Yale netted a powerplay goal of his own followed quickly by a goal from senior Dan O’Malley bringing the Bullets within two. With time winding down and Gburg looking to pull their netminder, an innocent dump in by VT went around the boards behind the net and Lipshutz moved to stop it. However, the boards at the Civic Center gave the puck a weird bounce right out in front to a wide open VT player who tapped in the empty net goal for the sealed 7-4 victory. A disappointing start to the weekend but Gburg could not dwell as they had three more contests to focus on.
The late night put Gettysburg at the NC hotel at just after 1am. But they got some rest and were going to need to be ready for their first matchup of the tournament Saturday evening against Elon University. But when the game got underway it looked like the Bullets had still been sleeping. Midway through the period Gettysburg began waking up, however, it seemed southern referees had different interpretations on the rules than the northern referees as the Bullets found themselves shorthanded quite often in the tournament. On one of these, Elon was able to put one past Lipshutz who was competing in back-to-back duties. This was the spark that Gettysburg needed to wake up as the Bullets netted two powerplay goals from sophomore Mike Berestecky and Kennedy and another even strength goal from freshman Jack Stanton. Gettysburg’s second period lull reared its ugly head again in this game as the penalties continued and it through them off their game. They surrendered two goals and would only take a narrow one goal lead in to the final period. However, the team settled down and focused on the victory as they rolled with four unanswered goals in the third from Yale, Hines, freshman Josh Pettengill and Stanton netted his second of the game for the win 7-3. There was quite literally little time to rest as the Bullets had to take on Duke a mere two and a half hours later.
The worry began to set in whether or not the Bullets had the stamina and determination to play this third game in the past 24 hours. But off the opening draw, Kennedy buried the first shot on net and it looked like things would go well for the Bullets. However, as the game went on, the fatigue was more than evident. Midway through the second, Pettengill would block a shot and head down on a breakaway and bury it giving Gettysburg the two goal lead once again. However, as the tournament would go, the Bullets seemed to find themselves spending most of the final period in the penalty box and even a well-rested team would have trouble with this. The two goal lead evaporated and the teams would head in to overtime to decide who would face NC State in the tournament’s championship and who would face UNC for the consolation game. Again the different southern rules did not call for the regular 4 on 4 overtime but rather continued to play 5 on 5. Neither team would capitalize and this game would be decided by a shootout. Shockley stopped the first shot and sophomore Matt Kuhl would score the Bullet’s first. However, Duke would net the next two and the Bullets would be denied, losing the game and would have to settle for the consolation game on Sunday.
The final game of this marathon weekend looked like a completely Bullet team than we had seen all year. Perhaps it was the thought of competing in a consolation game or maybe the four games in three days had finally caught up to them, or a combination of both, but they looked unmotivated and exhausted. At the end of the first period the game was 5-1 in favor of UNC, with Yale scoring Gettysburg’s lone goal. The second was only a little better as the Bullets pulled within three goals and trailed 6-3 heading in to the final period off goals from Berestecky and O’Malley. But you could tell this would be just too much hockey in too little time for the Bullets as once again in the third they looked tired and despite Hines netting a pair, and senior assistant captain Fulenwider netting a goal, UNC also netted four goals to handedly win the game 10-6.
The Thanksgiving break could not come at a better time for the Bullets. They simply needed to put this 1-2-0-0-1 weekend behind them and focus on the positive play they had in the first half of the season. They return to conference play for one more game before the semester break as they host Rutgers on December 1. Thank you to all the family and fans that made the trip to Virginia and North Carolina to support the Bullets.