DII Flames can't catch Retrievers, break five game win streak
January 26, 2013 | Lynchburg, Va.
In a battle for first place in the Mid-Atlantic Conference, Liberty University's Division II men's hockey team rallied from a three-goal deficit before suffering a 5-3 setback to the University of Maryland-Baltimore County, ranked third in the latest Southeast ACHA Division II poll, Saturday afternoon at the LaHaye Ice Center.
The eighth-ranked Flames (17-7-1) split their season series against the Retrievers (15-9), who got goals from five different players in the rematch.
UMBC responded by unleashing a barrage of shots on goal, with Alec Hanock finishing fellow freshman forward Zac Tracy's blocked shot past Liberty goalie Nick Devine from in the right crease at the 11:10 mark.
"They've got some talented forwards and they put a lot of pressure on Devine, a lot of good passing down low and they capitalized on a couple of their chances," Flames head coach Chris Lowes said. "They're just a dangerous team, which you can't make mistakes against or they'll make you pay. They scored on a couple of back-door passes and Nick made a couple big saves on them as well."
Four minutes later, the Retrievers, still in attack mode, went on top to stay when Matt Kelly received Daniel Durantaye's pass from behind the net and slipped a slap shot through the legs of Devine for a 2-1 lead.
Just two minutes into the second period, Durantaye sent a short pass across the goal mouth to Matthew Bloom, who redirected it to Jean Luc Durantaye for an easy tip-in in the right of the cage. Then, four minutes after that, with UMBC on a power play, it extended its advantage to 4-1 when Daniel Durantaye lifted a wrist shot from deep in the right crease into the upper netting.
"We made a few turnovers in our own end that they made us pay on, with a quick counter-attack," Lowes said. "We were good once we got the puck deep. Our cycle down low was good, our forwards were able to win battles, it was just a matter of getting there."
The Flames showed resilience in fighting back, resisting an onslaught of shots at the end of the second period and early in the third before Brad Docksteader cut the deficit to 4-2 off an assist from Peter Kazmierczak with 12:01 to go. The goal moved him into a tie for second among ACHA Division II scoring leaders with 66 points.
But Bloom padded the Retrievers' lead back to 5-2 on a follow of a Kelley shot blocked on transition before Liberty tacked on a goal by Kyle Davis, set up by Seth Reed and Caleb Allison as he skated down the center of the ice.
Though they had netted goals in groups of three in a few of its recent contests during its five-game winning streak, the Flames couldn't complete the late comeback against a fundamentally sound UMBC squad.
"Playing against a good team, you're not going to be able to get that (three-goal) deficit," Lowes said. "They're going to shut things down. It was too much to overcome. I was happy with the effort tonight. We just had some fundamental breakdowns and a couple penalties they capitalized on and that was the difference."
He hopes his team gains strength and wisdom from the experience as it prepares for the postseason.
"There's a lot to learn from that game," Lowes said. "We'll do some video and hopefully resolve a couple of the breakdowns that we had. That's the type of team we're going to have to beat at regionals and there's the potential to face them twice more, at our league playoffs."
The Flames conclude the regular season with a DII showcase next weekend at LaHaye with games against Rowan, the No. 4 seed in the Southeast, sixth-seeded Virginia Tech, which they have split with this season, and MAC rival East Carolina.
2013 D2 Men's Hockey vs. UMBC - public - Images by Cali Lowdermilk/Liberty University