Flames DII men start, finish with a flurry to topple Temple
January 25, 2013 | Lynchburg, Va.
Three-goal outbursts have been a frequent occurrence for Liberty University's Division II men's hockey team during its recent winning streak. The Flames (17-6-1) caught fire late in the first period and extended their run of success to five games with a 6-4 victory over visiting Temple University, late Friday night at the LaHaye Ice Center.
Brad Docksteader, Liberty's leading scorer on the season with 65 points (35 goals, 30 assists), finished off the rebound of a shot by Clinton Nigh with an ice-breaking goal in the left crease with 8:02 left in the first period. He proceeded to assist the Flames' next four scores, two in the next six minutes, to help Liberty avenge the Owls' 6-5 shootout victory, Nov. 9 in Philadelphia.
Docksteader assisted Brandon Cox and Kyle Burman, who netted a backhand from the left crease, late in the first period. He later wrapped his third assist around the left post from behind the net, where Bobby Cervone put it away to pad Liberty's lead to 4-1 with 5:16 left in the second.
"It's surprising that teams are really focusing a lot of attention on that line, Docksteader, Peter Kazmierczak and Cervone and even tonight, they had four goals," Liberty head coach Chris Lowes said. "So, even with teams putting their top shut-down guys, they're still being effective, which is encouraging."
However, that's when Temple (14-11) came to life as freshman forward Cody Vassa, the Owls' leading scorer, recorded his second goal of the night just 30 seconds later off the second of three assists from senior defender Jordan Lawrence.
Two goals early in the third period, by Brady O'Donnell on a one-on-one breakaway that he slipped past Liberty goalie Nick Devine and Chris Brennan off an assist from Joe Pisko, and the game was knotted at 4-4 with 14:07 left in regulation.
"They came out firing in the third and we've got to give them credit, they're a strong team," Lowes said. "They got pucks to the crease and got some bounces, but still I was happy with the way the guys responded to a little adversity."
Three and a half minutes later, Docksteader stole the puck in the neutral zone and assisted Cervone on a long-range, one-timed slap shot that skipped past Owls keeper Chris Mullen into the lower left corner of the cage, putting Liberty back on top, 5-4. Finally, at the 3:29 mark, freshman forward DJ Dinnison assisted senior attackman Neal Henderson from behind the net to give the Flames a two-goal cushion.
"We needed to win," Lowes said. "They're ranked No. 11 (in the Southeast Division of the ACHA Division II), we're No. 8, so they're really battling to get into the top 10 to make regionals. For them, they're really motivated. A win for them would have meant a lot. For us, it allows us to maintain pace and avenge the loss we had up there."
Devine made multiple saves in the final three minutes, blocking a wrap-around shot at the left post and withstanding a penalty by David Brewer for crashing into the cage to preserve the victory.
"They play a simple game," Lowes said. "They're putting a lot of pucks on our net and they outshot us there in the third, but Nick stood tall and the (defense) took care of rebounds and we were quite happy with that. Our penalty kill was very effective tonight and our power play was clicking tonight."
The Flames have four regular-season games remaining, including three against teams ranked ahead of them, starting Saturday against the University of Maryland-Baltimore County, at 2:45 p.m. at LaHaye.
"They're in our same division and it's actually a battle for first place in the Mid-Atlantic Conference, so the winner will get that No. 1 seed going into the playoffs which is great," Lowes said, noting the Flames won the first meeting up there, but UMBC is ranked third in the Southeast.