Flames take one of two games at fifth-ranked Gamecocks
January 17, 2015 | Columbia, S.C.
Liberty University's ACHA Division III men's hockey team, ranked 15th in the South Region, split its weekend series at fifth-ranked South Carolina with a 4-2 upset win on Saturday night.
The Gamecocks downed the Flames 7-6 in Friday night's first meeting, a fast-paced game in which Liberty jumped out to an early lead before succumbing to a combination of penalties and bad bounces.
This time, the Flames held on for the win — due in large part to the outstanding performance of returning goalie Pat Cormack, whose 48 saves on 50 shots allowed his teammates to weather a late comeback effort by the Gamecocks.
"It was (Pat's) first start for us this semester, since," Head Coach Rett McGibbon said, noting he took a medical withdrawal during the fall semester with a severe back issue. "Having him back in the lineup was huge for us, and he had one of the best performances in goal I've seen for us all year."
Early in the third period, Cockburn and Weesner each found the back of the net to extend the Flames' lead to 4-0.
Late penalty trouble led to two USC goals, but McGibbon expressed pride in the way his team handled the pressure.
"They scored the second goal with like five minutes to go, and they had a decent turnout, fan-wise, so we called a timeout to kind of freeze the crowd," McGibbon said. "It frustrated the players, and then we played really well, with lots of energy, for the last five minutes. They still had good chances, but we held onto the puck in their zone and wasted time on the clock."
When the final buzzer sounded, the struggling Flames had downed a top-10 team for the first time this season and played what McGibbon deemed their best 60 minutes of hockey to date.
"We're a pretty young team… and it kind of felt like we just needed to beat a top-10 team to get ourselves over the hump," McGibbon said. "We finally did, and on the road, so it was big for us and I think it got the guys believing that we can do this."
Liberty returns to the LaHaye Ice Center this weekend to challenge fourth-ranked Christopher Newport University on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. and Richmond on Sunday at 4:30 p.m.