Flames shut out No. 10 Ohio to cap sweep in Bird Ice Arena
October 5, 2013 | Athens, Ohio
Just 24 hours after winning a 7-6 shootout at Ohio, Liberty University's ACHA Division I men's hockey team pulled out a 1-0 squeaker on the Bobcats' home ice, Saturday night at the Bird Ice Arena.
After giving up six scores in the offensive slugfest the night before, freshman goalie Matt Pinel made 25 saves to post his first shutout for the Flames, who improved to 7-0 after winning the defensive battle.
"It was definitely a different game," Liberty head coach Kirk Handy said. "They outshot us last night and we outshot them tonight. We played better tonight. We were better in our defensive zone and we did a better job on the forecheck, which allowed us some scoring chances."
The Bobcats (2-2-1) hadn't lost in Bird Arena since Dec. 1, 2012, and it's been much longer since they've dropped two in a row or been shut out at home.
"That was a really important victory," Handy said. "To take two games at Ohio, that's a tough place to win. It does not happen very often. Our guys battled hard both nights and found a way to win. It wasn't always pretty, but it was a great team effort by our guys this weekend. Guys in different games played well at different times."
In the final 28 seconds of the first period, sophomore forward Danny Logan sent a beautiful assist across the crease to freshman forward Robert Ward who one-timed it into the net past Ohio freshman goalie Aaron Alkema (34 saves) on a power play.
"It was a great shot and it was a big goal," Handy said. "It came across the crease and he popped it in. That was a huge, huge goal."
Liberty outshot Ohio 30-13 through the first two periods, but only led 1-0.
"We just have to keep shooting the puck," Handy said. "We were pretty encouraged about the opportunities we were getting, they just weren't going in. Our guys just kept doing what they were doing."
For the game, Liberty held a 35-23 advantage in shots, even after being on the defensive for much of the third period. Bobcats first-year coach Johnathan Sheridan pulled Alkema for the final minute and a half of the game to put Ohio on a power play.
"Matt Pinel had a solid game in goal for us tonight," Handy said. "When they did have good opportunities, he made the saves when he had to."
Alkema was nearly as impressive for the Bobcats, stopping several quality chances by the Flames, including one by Ryley Egan.
"He kept us in the game," Sheridan said of Alkema. "Liberty's a very good team. They're very explosive in the offensive zone."
Missing junior defenseman and captain Matt Sherry, the Flames' defense didn't cave in against the dangerous Bobcats.
"Brandon Cox played really well for us this weekend," Handy said of the sophomore DII call-up. "Those were two good teams playing hard and both teams had solid intensity throughout the game."
He hopes the Flames can maintain their work ethic and keep their winning streak alive when they host Arizona on Friday and Saturday nights at 7 at the LaHaye Ice Center.
"There's still adjustments we need to make in our team game," Handy said.
By Ted Allen/Staff Writer