CCU Chanticleers Are 3 Time ACC M2 Premier AAU Champs
March 5, 2023 – Winston Salem, NC
The Coastal Carolina Chanticleers added a third consecutive ACC M2 Premier AAU Championship title (their 4th title in 5 years) to their vault by once again defeating their arch-rival Liberty Flames by a score of 5-4 in Overtime on Sunday March 5th at the Fairgrounds Annex in Winston – Salem, NC. This makes 5 years in row that they’ve defeated Liberty in playoff action and puts a big exclamation point on another great season turned in by the Chants.
The Chants made their way to the Final by defeating Christopher Newport University 5-2 in the Friday March 3rd Quarterfinals and then dispatching Number 2 Seed Rowan University by a score of 5-3 in the Saturday night March 4th Semi-Final game.
With two tough games behind them, the Chants headed into yet another final against Liberty (who defeated High Point University 5-2 in their Semi-Final after having received a bye in the Quarterfinal Round). Liberty was able to strike first just 24 seconds into the game but Coastal tied the game at 1-1 at the 14:10 mark off a goal from freshman Luke Suhesky with assists from Colin McAdams and Luke Kilduff. Liberty scored again at 6:58 to take a 2-1 lead into the first intermission. The shots were 15-8 in favor of the Flames.
Brady Barnes tied the game for Coastal early in the 2nd period (2:13) with a helper from Liam Walsh. The period went back and forth before Liberty took a 3-2 lead into the 2nd intermission. Coastal did, however, carry most of the play outshooting Liberty 18 to 11.
Coming out for the 3rd period down by a goal, the Chants continued to carry the play and eventually tied the game at 3-3 on a nice close range move by ACC Offensive Player of the Year, sophomore Owen O’Brien with assists from Senior Captain defenseman Luke Krupa and line mate Liam Walsh. A crazy puck bounce and deflection allowed the Flames to take the lead once again at 4-3 at the 10:06 mark but the never-say-die Chants tied the game right back up at 4-4 as Colin McAdams deposited a rebound off of a Luke Krupa shot with a secondary assist going to senior Matt Corning. Liberty decided to challenge the goal on the grounds of goaltender interference but, after review by the video review official and the on-ice officials, the goal was upheld and the score remained 4-4 with 6:53 remaining in the 3rd period. Both teams traded scoring chances down the stretch but the game went to Overtime with Coastal outshooting Liberty 18 to 8 in the final period and 43 to 30 for through three periods.
For the 2nd time in three years, the ACC M2 Premier championship was going to be decided in Overtime with the teams skating 4 players aside for an initial 10 minute OT Period. At the 8:53 mark Liberty was caught with too many men on the ice giving the Chants a 4 on 3 power play and that was all Coastal needed as Senior team captain Luke Krupa, who is also the ACC Defensive Player of the year, lasered a wrist shot past the stick side of the Liberty goaltender to become the game’s big Hero and lift the Captain’s cup for Coastal once again. Assists went to Owen O’Brien and Dylan Stahl. O’Brien was named tournament MVP notching 5 goals and 3 assists over three games.
“These were three emotional and hard-fought games,” commented Head Coach Grant Williams after the win. “But we had a coolness and calmness about us because we’ve been in this situation many times before and because we’re a family and play and coach for each other. We don’t feel the pressure that maybe some other teams feel because we’re always the underdog or we always see ourselves as the underdog. Not everyone may realize but we don’t have a rink at all. These guys have a four hour roundtrip just to get practice and “home” games. Our main rival Liberty has an arena right on their campus. What’s that tell you? That’s how I know my guys are dedicated and play for each other.”