Flames drop another one-goal loss to ongoing nemesis Ohio
October 28, 2017 | Lynchburg, Va.
A controversial call erasing the potentially game-tying goal in the closing minutes of Saturday night's rematch with Ohio at the LaHaye Ice Center left Liberty University's ACHA Division I men's hockey team 0-for-11 against the Bobcats since October 2013.
The Flames (8-4, ranked 13th in ACHA Division I) haven't overcome Ohio (8-2-1, ranked No. 11) on their home ice since Oct. 27, 2012, when the Bobcats were the No. 1 team in the nation.
"The team battled hard all around," said Liberty junior goalie Josh Halpenny, who made 27 saves in the 4-3 setback. "Everyone was stepping up when they needed to, but we've got to bring it for all 60 minutes. At the end of the day, it simply wasn't enough."
Halpenny, now in his fourth season at Liberty, has yet to see the Flames beat the Bobcats.
"They're a good team," he said. "They show up every night and work hard. We've got to work harder next time."
Ohio struck first just two minutes after the opening faceoff when forward Michael Palasics, who had a goal and an assist in Friday night's opener, received a pass from behind Liberty's cage and finished past Halpenny for an early 1-0 lead.
Liberty netted the equalizer with 6:57 left in the second period when senior forward Tim Bierema gathered the rebound of a shot behind the goal and finished a wraparound past Ohio goalie Jimmy Thomas from the right post.
However, just like Friday night, when the Bobcats tied the game 27 seconds after the Flames had scored first late in the second period en route to a 2-1 triumph, Ohio answered quickly. This time, it reclaimed the lead 24 seconds after Bierema's first score when defenseman Grant Hazel launched a shot from near the blue line blocked by Halpenny before forward Gabe Lampron tapped the rebound into the open right side of the net for a 2-1 advantage.
The Bobcats extended their edge to 3-1 at the 4:21 mark with a power-play goal by Shaun Baird, less than a minute after freshman forward Sam Carlson was assessed a five-minute major for roughing after he and a defenseman collided into Thomas. Ohio capitalized on the five-on-four advantage when Baird received a pass from fellow defenseman Jacob Houston and skipped a low shot from in the left circle off Halpenny's stick into the upper netting.
Ohio stretched its lead to 4-1 early in the third period when forward Bryan Lubin picked off a pass by Liberty freshman forward Ryan Cox and started a breakaway before finishing it with a wrist shot past Halpenny.
That's when the Flames' offense finally heated up, capitalizing on two power-play opportunities. With 13:19 to go, Bierema took a pass from freshman forward Jordan Bochinski and sent the puck across the goalmouth to freshman forward Cole Gammer, who chipped it top shelf past Thomas to trim the deficit to 4-2.
"I'm proud of the way our guys battled in the third," Handy said. "I saw a lot of things in the third that I really liked and a lot of things we can continue to build on as a team. Instead of laying dead, we got up when it was 4-1 and made a major pushback."
|Flames defenseman Zane Schartz works in front of the Bobcats by Liberty's bench. (Photo by Andrew Snyder).|
Just over a minute later, Gammer made it a game by skating down the left wing and going wide with excellent speed and stickwork before slicing through the left circle and tucking the puck into the top left corner, closing the gap to 4-3.
That's the same spot where sophomore forward Quinn Ryan put the puck for what would have been the equalizer in the closing 2:30, but the goal was disallowed by the officials. Senior forward Grant Garvin — who had a breakaway goal called back in Friday night's opener — skated toward the right corner and sent a cross-ice pass to Ryan who had cut through the left crease. Ryan lifted the rebound of his own point-blank shot into the top left corner of the net as Thomas kicked the left post off its mooring with the back of his skate, but the officials ruled no goal.
"We can't worry about what's being called and what's not being called," Handy said. "We have to control what we can control and what we can control is a better effort in the first 40 minutes. I thought we capitalized and really worked hard tonight in the third period."
"We've got to accept it and move on," Halpenny added of the official's call. "It really shows the character of our team, especially all of the freshmen, just how they managed to step up and really make a push at the end rather than just rolling over."
Liberty outshot Ohio 33-31 for the contest, but Thomas made 30 saves and the Flames were whistled for 10 penalties to seven for the Bobcats. They spent nearly five of the last eight minutes shorthanded with a player in the penalty box, diminishing their chances of netting the equalizer.
Liberty will look to take some momentum from the final period into next weekend's ESCHL showdown with 10th-ranked Stony Brook, also at the LaHaye Ice Center. The Flames dethroned the four-time defending ESCHL tournament champion Seawolves in last year's championship game.