Governor’s Cup puts fierce Tobacco Road rivalry between NC State, UNC on ice

The Tar Heels won four of six meetings last season

UNC’s Henry Foster lifts the Governor’s Cup in celebration after the Tar Heels won the title for the first time in 2022. (James Jackson / UNC Hockey)

CHAPEL HILL — The Wolfpack and Tar Heels will put their rivalry on ice ahead of their annual season-ending gridiron matchup next week.

Club hockey teams from the two rivals will face off Monday at 7 p.m. for the seventh annual Governor’s Cup at PNC Arena.

“Having a big stage where a lot of fans show up, it’s a big deal,” UNC senior captain Henry Foster said of playing at the home of the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes. “It’s a ton of fun to play in such a lively and exciting arena.”

NC State’s Icepack has won five of the previous Governor’s Cup matchups, losing for the first time last year.

“While the loss was not great for NC State hockey, for the sake of the rivalry it was probably not the worst thing to happen,” NC State coach Tim Healy said. “It really had not been much of a rivalry in years, so this helped bring passion and fire back to it.”

While the Icepack has historically dominated the rivalry, the Tar Heels have had success against NC State the past two seasons. UNC beat its rivals four out of six times last season, including winning the Governor’s Cup and ending the Icepack’s season in the American Collegiate Hockey Association Southeast Regionals in Springfield, Virginia.

After losing the series and the cup last year, the Icepack is looking to bounce back against the Tar Heels.

“(The Governor’s Cup) is a big opportunity, and it’s the next step to reaching our goal of ultimately sweeping them,” said Icepack senior captain Garrett Auriene.

One of NC State’s two wins over the Tar Heels last season came outdoors when the teams faced off at Carter-Finley field in February, two days after the Hurricanes hosted the Washington Capitals in an NHL Stadium Series game. The Icepack captured a 7-3 win over UNC in front of an estimated 24,000 fans in Raleigh.

The Icepack and the Tar Heels most recently faced off Oct. 27 at Wake Competition Center in Morrisville, with NC State topping UNC with a 5-4 overtime win on a goal from freshman Nick Shook.

UNC has won four of five since, and the Tar Heels are looking to prove that they are the team to beat in North Carolina.

“We truly feel we’re the better team overall,” Michael Vaglia, Tar Heels forward and team president, said. “We’re going to come out and prove to everyone that we’re the better team and that was just a fluke.”

Ahead of the game, the Tar Heels revealed a new jersey. Each team member had the opportunity to design a jersey, with the players voting on their favorite design to bring to life. The navy jersey was designed by former UNC hockey player Simon Malone and is inspired by the Hurricanes’ warning flag pattern.

“We’ll have a piece of Hurricanes history on the jersey playing in their arena, which is gonna be cool,” said Vaglia.

Tickets for the Governor’s Cup are available on Ticketmaster.