Lady Flames ignite power play in opening win at Lindenwood
October 6, 2017 | St. Louis, Mo.
Despite being outshot by a 33-19 margin, Liberty University's ACHA Division I women's hockey team capitalized on its first two power play goals of the season to pull out a 3-1 triumph over host Lindenwood-Belleville (Mo.), late Friday night at the FSI Shark Tank in St. Louis.
For the Lady Flames (2-2, 2-0 ACHA), sophomore goalie Nadia Rupoli tamed the Lynx (2-1, 2-1), making 32 saves and posting a shutout for more than 56 minutes. Lindenwood was coming off last weekend's 5-0 and 10-1 season-opening sweep of Grand Canyon, a first-year program.
"We definitely played our best 60 minutes of hockey so far this season," Liberty Assistant Coach Justin Forth said. "The last 10 minutes were a little shaky, a little panicky, but Nadia definitely gave us a chance to win and the girls answered the call."
Liberty struck first just 5 minutes, 53 seconds after the opening faceoff when sophomore defenseman Rachel Gibson scored unassisted for an early 1-0 edge.
"Their goalie corralled the puck onto (Gibson's) stick (on a dump-in) and she one-timed it into the net," Forth said.
Early in the second period, after Lindenwood senior forward Reagan Fuller was called for hooking, Lady Flames sophomore forward Tiana Lisle one-timed a slap shot from just inside the circle off assists from sophomore defenseman Emily John and sophomore forward Deena Birney for a 2-0 advantage.
"Head Coach Chris Lowes has really been working with them on the power play and it was starting to click tonight," Forth said. "Assistant Coach Leah Carlson has been working with the defense and the defense looked really strong tonight."
Junior defenseman Katie Comeau provided Rupoli solid backup moments after she made a spectacular windmill-styled glove save.
The score stayed at 2-0 before the Lynx cut the deficit in half, ending a 32-minute scoring drought at the 3:31 mark when freshman forward Michaela Read snuck the puck past Rupoli off an assist from sophomore forward Katie Stelling.
"There was a bit of a scramble around the net and Aly pulled it out and sent a nice little pass in the slot (to DeMerchant) and she buried it," Forth said.
Tonight's rematch back in the Shark Tank will be webcast live starting at 10:10 p.m. (EST) on Lindenwood-Belleville's Facebook page.
Forth expects a tougher test in Game 2, Liberty's third in as many nights on its Fall Break road trip.
"We've developed a pretty good rivalry with Lindenwood after beating them in the (ACHA Division I) playoffs two years ago and splitting with them last year at the LaHaye Ice Center," he said. "It's always good to get that last game in a three-game road trip. (A sweep) is definitely doable if we play our game and stick to our system."