Flames, Turner torch Mountaineers in regular-season finale
February 16, 2013 | Lynchburg, Va.
Playing in his last Division I men's hockey game at the LaHaye Ice Center, Liberty University's senior forward Rick Turner netted a hat trick and added two assists in Saturday night's regular-season finale against West Virginia, a resounding 8-3 victory.
Turner ranks third on the Flames' all-time list in goals and third in total points for his career, behind senior teammate Brent Boschman, who added two goals on the night, the last off assists from Turner and Liberty's third senior, Scott Morongell, the hero of Friday night's 3-2 shootout win.
"I couldn't have wrote it better, couldn't have wrote a better story, so it was good," Turner said. "I couldn't ask for better friends, better teammates. I'll remember them for the rest of my life."
With his five points on the night, Turner moves back into second among ACHA DI players in points scored with 72 on the season, including 41 goals.
"Rick's had a great year," Flames head coach Kirk Handy said. "The last couple games, he was kind of hit or miss, but definitely tonight, he had his game on so that was good."
After Tyson Street gave the Flames (23-13-2) a 1-0 lead just 90 seconds after the opening faceoff, off assists from Morongell and Andrew McCombe, Turner scored his first goal on a shot from between the circles off a steal and assist from Ryan Kerr, putting the Flames back in front 2-1.
Boschman received assists from Morongell and Ryley Egan and pocketed a left-handed wrist shot while cutting through the left crease for as the Flames opened a 3-1 advantage with 2:49 left in the first period.
"For them all to score in the first period, it was awesome," Handy said of the three seniors.
West Virginia (13-16-1) struck back just 13 seconds after the ensuing faceoff when Stephen Gielarowski snuck the puck under Liberty goalie Clayton Brown from near the right post.
But Turner turned the momentum completely around by netting the only two goals of the second period.
The first, just over four minutes into the action, was sparked by freshman forward Danny Logan's powerful check of West Virginia's Shayne Wilson into the boards on the defensive end. Logan then stole the puck in the center of the ice and sent a quick outlet to Turner for a one-on-one with WVU goalie Eric Schaetzle.
"Logan played a great game tonight," Handy said. "He increased his amount of ice time, power play, penalty kill, five-on-five, double shifting, so he had a great game for us."
After receiving the feed from Logan, Turner skated in and maneuvered the puck back and forth before deftly depositing it into the five hole, trickling through Schaetzle's pads, pushing the lead back to two goals at 4-2.
"He fed me with a good breakaway pass and I just came in and the goalie tried to poke-check me and it went right through his legs," Turner said. "I couldn't have done it without that pass, though."
Then, with just under four minutes left in the period, Jackson Kuhn worked the puck up the ice on transition following a faceoff on the defensive end and whacked it back through the crease to Kyle Garcia. His shot from in front of the net was blocked to Turner, who finished the rebound from deep in the left crease into an open net, completing his hat trick."
"It was a nice tick-tack-toe play and I just happened to be in the right place at the right time and I was able to knock it in," Turner said.
"When it was 4-2, we knew if we could score a fifth one, it was key," Handy added. "So we scored a fifth one and kind of put it away."
Everything was clicking for the Flames, in all phases of the game.
"Great way (to finish off the regular season), and a good way to build momentum for us going into nationals," Handy said. "A couple things happened tonight. We found the lines were meshing, we found the penalty kill was working and obviously (goalie Clayton) Brown backed it up with another solid night."
Liberty outshot the Mountaineers 35-30, with Brown making 27 saves.
Steve Bellew, Logan, and Kerr each had near misses in the second period for the Flames. Bellew, left wide open in the left circle, watched his slapshot clang off the crossbar before Logan had his shot on a break slide under Schaetzle only to be cleared off the goal line by a Mountaineer defender. Kerr later worked a give-and-go with Boschman before having his chip shot from close range blocked high by Schaetzle.
The Flames finished off West Virginia with a three-goal third period, sparked by a power play goal by Egan after excellent puck movement on the offensive end. Turner trapped a pass from Kuhn and spotted Egan on the right end line, where he sent a slap shot past Schaetzle into the upper netting.
Then, in the closing minutes, Street netted his second score by sticking in a diving putback inside left post off a shot from the top of the right circle by Garcia before Boschman's second goal off assists from L Turner and Morongell inside the left post.
The Flames were playing without sophomore forward Lindsay LeBlanc, who was added Friday to their long list of injured reserves.
"He'll be back for nationals," Turner said. "We're not worried about him. We'll need him for nationals, we all know that. We've got to keep this rolling into nationals. If we do that, we'll be all right."