No. 2 Penn State holds off Liberty
January 11, 2013 | Lynchburg, Va.
Facing a Penn State team that recently rose from No. 4 to No. 2 in the ACHA Men's Division II Southeast Region poll, Liberty University's Division II ice hockey team set the bar high for its first action since Dec. 7, Friday night at the LaHaye Ice Center.
The eighth-ranked Flames (13-6-1) had the Nittany Lions (14-4-1) on the ropes, too, carrying a 3-2 advantage into the third period before being shut out for the final 20 minutes of a 4-3 setback.?
"It's a good test for us to start off the semester," Liberty head coach Chris Lowes said. "Obviously, we're disappointed, especially going into the third with the lead, but Penn State's a solid team. It helps us evaluate where we're at and where we need to be."?
PSU came out as the more aggressive team on attack, taking 45 shots on goal to 22 for the Flames on the night. The Nittany Lions opened a 1-0 first-period lead when Ryan Urban picked up a loose puck in the right circle and fired it past Liberty goaltender Nick Devine into the upper left netting.?But the Flames were opportunistic, making the most of their chances in the second period, when they outscored PSU 3-1. DJ Dinnison, Liberty's second-leading scorer on the season, struck first, tying it up at 1-1 by one-timing a short crossing pass from John Cotton past PSU goalie Kevin Lowthert.
Penn State responded less than five minutes later when a slap shot by Max O'Malley from the left side set up by Peter Daley squirted through Devine's glove and the left post. Liberty's Bobby Cervone retied it at 2-2 by shuffling in a feed from Brad Docksteader, who upped his team-high points total to 50, before the Flames took their first lead with 4:15 remaining on a second goal by Dinnison. He stuck his stick in the crease to push the puck across the goal line in front of an empty net, finishing off a near-miss assist from Jeff Boschman.
Flames senior Seth Reed picked up a costly five-minute penalty at the end of the second period, opening the door for the Nittany Lions to score the tying and winning goals early in the third.
"Ultimately, they got three power play goals in the game. You just can't give a talented team like that the opportunity with the extra man. They made the most of it," Lowes said.
PSU quickly re-tied the game on a right-side breakaway by Chris Lewis, who moved into a tie for the team lead with 24 points, before Urban put the Nittany Lions back on top to stay a minute and a half later, putting away a feed from Mac Winchester in the left crease for the game-winner with 16:05 to go.
"We took more penalty minutes than they did tonight and it showed," Lowes said. "You can only kill so many minutes against a top team like that. We can't give them the freebies on the power play and we need to make the most of our scoring chances. Our power play wasn't very sharp."
Devine recorded 41 saves for Liberty, slightly improving his 90 save percentage.
"They outshot us, but Nick played well in goal, kept us in it," Lowes said.
Liberty hosts West Virginia (5-10) tonight at LaHaye, with the puck dropping at 7 p.m.?
"Hopefully, we'll bounce back and get back on the winning track," Lowes said.
20130111 D2 Hockey vs Penn State - Images by Liberty University