DII Flames beat Owls in shootout
January 18, 2013 | Lynchburg, Va.
It took a while for the Flames Division II men's hockey team to warm up in Friday night's first round of the Liberty University Showcase at the LaHaye Ice Center.
Facing Kennesaw State (17-1), a DIII power from north of Atlanta, Ga., ranked second in the South, Liberty trailed 2-0 after the first period and still hadn't broken the scoring ice midway through the second.
But the Flames (15-6-1) finished with a flurry, rallying from a 3-1 third-period deficit to defeat the Owls 4-3 in an eight-round shootout, their second of the season after losing to Temple 6-5 on Nov. 9.
After KSU's Max Couseneau opened the shootout by threading his shot between the glove of Liberty goalie Nick Devine and the right post, Flames senior forward Caleb Allison knotted it up in the second round with a nifty backhanded wrist shot from the left side into the upper-90 netting. The next five shooters from both sides were shut out by Devine and KSU goalie Pat Cormack before Liberty freshman Peter Kazmierczak, a left-handed forward, scored his first-career shootout goal in sudden death, forcing Cormack back into the net as he deposited the puck between his legs for the game-winner.
"We've been playing Kennessaw for years and have had a real healthy rivalry with them," Liberty head coach Chris Lowes said. "They're undefeated, they're probably favored to win (DIII) nationals and they'd be a top-10 team in Division II. Last year (when the Owls were DII), we played them four times and we split with them so it only made sense that it came down to overtime tonight."
Graham Leiding, Kennesaw's leading scorer with 49 points, got the Owls on the scoreboard with 8:45 left in the first period by finishing off a breakaway counterattack during a Liberty power play. Then, just over two minutes before the first intermission, Eric Malido put Kennesaw up 2-0 off a failed clear attempt by the Flames' defense.
Liberty finally got onto the scoreboard when John Cotton one-timed the rebound of a powerful shot by Kyle Burman in the right circle from point-blank range past Cormack, trimming the deficit to 2-1 with 8:17 left in the second.
Couseneau stretched the Owls' advantage to 3-1 on a power play early in the third period by finding the five hole past Devine on a wide-open slapshot in the left circle. But it only took Liberty 41 seconds to strike back on the first of two assists by sophomore center Erik Burke, a second-semester transfer, finished by freshman forward Kyle Davis in the left crease with 15:42 left in regulation.
Then, at the 10:47 mark, sophomore defender Clinton Nigh converted the equalizer on a straight-on slapshot from 25 feet out.
The Flames outshot the Owls 32-30 with Devine making 27 saves to Cormack's 28.
Liberty, ranked eighth in the Southeast Division, continues play in its shootout Saturday at 8 p.m. against DII Delaware before concluding with a 12:30 p.m. contest Sunday against Christopher Newport University.
"The boys took a lot out of (Saturday night's) comeback win and hopefully, it's a start of a three-win weekend," Lowes said.