Flames' DI men snap Delaware's eight-game win streak
February 1, 2013 | Newark, Del.
Defending ACHA Division I men's hockey national champion Delaware, winners of nine of its previous 10 meetings against Liberty University, had gone 15-2 since sweeping the Flames, Nov. 9-10 in Lynchburg.
But playing without goalie SJ Broadt, the reigning ACHA Division I player of the year, who was sick, the Blue Hens' streak of success in dousing the Flames came to a fiery end, Friday night at Fred Rust Ice Arena.
Liberty's leading scorer Rick Turner sparked the Flames' attack, scoring the go-ahead goal late in the second period off an assist from behind the cage by Luke Baumgarten before putting the finishing touches on the Flames' 5-2 victory by skating in from the left corner and angling his shot past goalie Noble Tucker.
"It was a huge win," Liberty head coach Kirk Handy said. "Our guys came in prepared to play and it made a big difference. We had our chances and were able to score two power play goals, which was pretty big for us tonight."
Turner, who netted two goals to move within one of the ACHA DI lead with 38 on the season, also recorded a critical assist in the final 14 seconds of the second period, upping his points total to 67, third highest in the league.
Delaware, which was penalized for having six men on the ice, nearly extinguished the Flames power play before Brent Boschman pushed Liberty's lead to 4-2 by ripping a slapshot off a pass from Turner past Tucker on transition.
"That goal by Boschman at the end of the second period was a big turning point for us," Handy said.
Liberty (21-10-2), ranked 10th in the latest ACHA DI poll, snapped a six-game skid against 12th-ranked Delaware (21-9), which had won eight straight.
Kyle Garcia ignited the Flames' attack just 39 seconds after the opening faceoff by finishing a backhanded assist from Scott Morongell in the left crease.
"In the second game (Nov. 10 at Liberty), they scored three goals in first five minutes, so it was nice to be able to jump on them," Handy said.
Moments after a shot by Tyson Street hit off the pipe, Steven Bellew had his straight-on shot deflected high into the air before it bounced behind Tucker into the back of the net for a 2-0 advantage with 7:32 left in the first period.
Later in the first, Mark Zeszut, the Blue Hens' leading scorer, put away a rebound into an open net, trimming the deficit to 2-1. Delaware capitalized on another power play to tie the game at 2-2 just 2:05 into the second period, with Zeszut finishing a short-ranged shot on a two-on-two rush toward Liberty goalie Clayton Brown.
Defensively, the Flames formed a strong shield in front of Brown (40 saves), though the Blue Hens outshot Liberty 42-35 on the night.
"The line of (Christian) Garland, Garcia, and (Ryan) Kerr played a strong game, especially on the penalty kill," Handy said. "It definitely was a stronger game for us. We had some breakdowns we need to correct, (but) for 60 minutes, we played well."
He said it will be a tall order to try to sweep Delaware on its home ice, tonight at 5:15, but the Flames are going to give it a shot.
"Obviously, we know we're going to have to have a better effort to beat them," Handy said. "They're going to be coming strong and we've got to match it."