After early slip, Flames topple Mountaineers
January 12, 2013 | Lynchburg, Va.
It didn't take West Virginia long to break the scoring ice in Saturday night's men's Division II hockey game against Liberty University at the LaHaye Ice Center. Tristan Shorter rifled a slapshot from the right side of the blue line that deflected past goalie Nick Devine into the cage just 11 seconds after the opening faceoff.
However, that was the only time the Mountaineers found the net on the night in an 11-1 massacre by the Flames.
Liberty wasted no time in retaliating, netting four goals over the next seven minutes, including a hat trick by team points leader Brad Docksteader, to establish early control.
"The boys responded," Flames head coach Chris Lowes said. "We had a good first period. Five-on-five, our four lines outplayed their four. Even strength, we looked dominant."
Docksteader, who finished with five goals to up his season total to 55 points, took a pass behind the cage from Peter Kazmierczak, cut into the left crease and pocketed a backhanded shot to knot the score at 1-1 at the 17:50 mark.
"That was my first goal on first shift," Docksteader said. "It was good, it was fun. I had good linemates who helped out a lot."
Exactly a minute after that, Bobby Cervone hooked up with Docksteader for the first of two goals in a span of 52 seconds. Working behind the net, he spotted Docksteader posting up in the left crease for a quick finish and a 3-1 lead. Then, Cervone checked a WVU attacker off the boards and stole the puck in the process before starting a breakaway to Docksteader, who followed a rebound of his one-on-one miss off Orr for a point-blank putback.
A night after being outshot 45-22, the Flames put 42 shots on goal and allowed only 24 by the Mountaineers, with Devine making 21 saves and posting a shutout for the final 59:49.
"They weren't as skilled as Penn State last night," Docksteader said. "They were a little more laid back, so we were able to recuperate and we really took advantage and it worked out well for us."
The Flames scored twice more over the next seven minutes to build a commanding 6-1 lead with 6:01 left in the first period. DJ Dinnison capped a break up the left side with a backhanded wrist shot that he snuck past Orr before Nate Arbour received a pass from Nigh in the left circle, deked past a defender and cooly deposited a left-handed slapshot into the upper right corner of the cage.
Even when Liberty was a man-down, it generated its share of scoring chances. With the final seconds of a Mountaineer power play ticking away late in the first period, the Flames sent the puck up ice and when Orr came out to clear it off the board, Henderson picked it off and cleaned it up with an open-net goal from in the right circle.
"We got two short-handed goals tonight and we killed three five-minute penalties," Lowes said. "That's great for our penalty kill, but obviously a point for us to focus on, staying out of the box."
Docksteader added a fourth goal midway through the second period, finishing a left-handed shot from in the left circle into the upper-right corner of the net, and Jeff Boschman assisted Caleb Allison on a backhanded shot from in the left crease to make it 9-1.
That's how it stayed for more than 20 minutes, as the Flames killed a five-minute penalty that spanned the second and third periods before adding two more goals in the final five minutes of play. Cervone scored unassisted on a powerful shot on transition before Arbour came up with a steal in the left circle and assisted Docksteader's fifth goal on a two-on-one in the crease.
"Dock's a leader for us, on the ice, off the ice and that's his game," Lowes said. "He's a natural goal-scorer. His line did a good job tonight. Four of his five goals were even strength so they're doing a good job of feeding him the puck and working down low."
Liberty (14-6-1), which reeled off seven wins in a row from Sept. 22 through Oct. 27, continued a trend over the past 10 games in which it has followed a loss with a win, going 5-4-1 over that stretch. West Virginia fell to 5-11 a night after losing a tight match at rival Virginia Tech.
The Flames hope Saturday night's triumph is the start of at least a four-game winning streak with games next weekend against Kennesaw State, Delaware, and Christopher Newport in a three-day showcase at LaHaye.
"We'd like to go 3-0 next weekend," Lowes said. "That's our goal. We have three more weekends until the playoffs and we want to keep improving and becoming more consistent."
Liberty is currently ranked eighth in the Southeast region with the top 10 teams qualifying for the regional playoffs and the top two automatically securing the first of four national bids.