Liberty thrives on power play, snags rebound win at Oakland
November 22, 2013 | Rochester Hills, Mich.
One day after losing at Davenport University, Liberty University's ACHA Division I men's hockey team defeated an Oakland team that had swept two games from the visiting Panthers just last weekend, winning 5-3 to end a two-game skid, Friday night at the ONYX Ice Arena in Rochester Hills, Mich.
"We played a real solid game tonight," Flames Head Coach Kirk Handy said. "We actually took a few too many penalties, but overall, the effort was there. Oakland's a strong opponent and our guys came to play and we got strong goaltending from Matt Pinel."
Liberty (18-3) scored four of its five goals on the power play against Golden Grizzlies (11-9), who won three out of four meetings with the Flames last season.
"That was a big deal for us," Handy said. "Our power play was a big part of our game tonight. That's something that hasn't been working in the past, but it was on tonight."
Freshman forward Robert Ward moved into the Liberty season scoring lead with his 26th point (8 goals, 18 assists) on a wrist shot from the point off an assist from Andrew McCombe. Oakland tied it back up before sophomore forward Bram Erickson put the Flames up 2-1 with their only even-strength goal of the night, assisted by sophomore forward Danny Logan and freshman forward Charles Williams.
"The Bram (Ericson), Logan, and Williams line played a strong game for us," Handy said. "Bram put a puck on net and it trickled through the goalie. It was a nice, low shot that went in from about 30 feet out."
Liberty stretched its lead to 4-1 after the second period when Williams took the puck in the neutral zone off assists from sophomore defenseman Steven Bellew and Ward and netted a beautiful goal before freshman forward Brandon Mistal scored off another power play with a minute left.
The Grizzlies trimmed the deficit to 4-2 in the third before sophomore forward D.J. Dinnison capped the Flames' scoring by capitalizing on a power play. Oakland followed suit with a power-play goal of its own in the final minute.
Liberty won for the first time away from the LaHaye Ice Center since completing a sweep of Ohio on Oct. 5.
"It was a road win and a difficult place to play," Handy said. "Our guys battled hard and had the effort that was needed for us to be successful. Now, we've got to refocus and make sure that our work ethic is there again (Saturday)" when the puck drops at 7:50 p.m. in the ONYX.