Flames extinguish WVU's seven-game win streak in shootout
February 15, 2013 | Lynchburg, Va.
Senior defender Scott Morongell wasn't the most likely player on Liberty University's Division I men's hockey team to convert the game-winning goal in a shootout against West Virginia, Friday night at the LaHaye Ice Center.
But he made the most of the opportunity, approaching swiftly from the left wing and sending a lightning-fast wrist shot into the upper right corner of the net past West Virginia goalie Rob Borcky, lifting Liberty to a dramatic 3-2 triumph.
"I don't think we've ever had Scott shoot before at Liberty," Flames head coach Kirk Handy said. "We decided to go with the three seniors (following forwards Rick Turner and Brent Boschman) and Scott Morongell had a great shot to win it for us."
Sophomore goalie Clayton Brown, who came close to posting his third shutout, made 32 saves in regulation and the five-minute overtime period before stopping three more shots in the shootout.
"This might have been my second or third here at Liberty," Brown said. "They're always fun to be in. Obviously, you want to win it in regulation, but it was nice to see Gelly (Morongell) score that goal."
The Mountaineers took a seven-game winning streak into the regular-season-ending series opener against the Flames, who were on a three-game skid after losing the second game at defending ACHA Division I national champion Delaware and dropping two at home against reigning runner-up Oakland.
"I thought West Virginia played a good game," Handy said. "It was nice for us to get back into the win column. There's still some things we can improve on for (Saturday) night. We need to be a little more disciplined. (But) it was a step in the right direction (and) we're going to take it as a positive."
Liberty outshot the Mountaineers 42-34 on the night, though WVU may have generated more quality scoring chances. Brown made several critical glove saves, including one by Stephen Gielarowski from point-blank range that he snared near the right post in the final two minutes of the third period.
"West Virginia always comes ready to battle, so you've got to bring your A game every time," Brown said. ""All that matters is we got the W. It was nice to make a couple plays, I got lucky a couple times. It's good to have the communication back there from the defense."
Liberty (22-13-2) recorded single goals in the first two periods before the Mountaineers (13-15-1) tallied twice in a span of just over two minutes with 4:04 left in the third, forcing overtime.
Less than a minute after killing the Mountaineers' first power play, midway through the opening period, Flames freshman forward Bram Erickson received Steven Bellew's pass from behind the net and slid the puck between Borcky's legs from short range, giving Liberty to a 1-0 lead.
The Flames picked up the intensity as the second period progressed, given a reprieve after escaping a couple Mountaineer scoring threats. Following a pass that Boschman sent just out of the reach of Erickson on a break, Brown charged out of the cage to stop the puck near the top of the circle, sparking Liberty's transition out of the defensive zone. Andrew McCombe had his shot blocked on the break before he set up Lindsay LeBlanc moments later for a finish from near the left end line for a 2-0 advantage.
West Virginia staged a late rally, ending Brown's shutout bid when Matt Mager deposited a shot from deep in the left circle into the upper-right corner of the net that trimmed the Flames' edge to 2-1. Moments later, Thomas Brooks finished a cross-crease assist from Conor Frei into the top-right shelf from the right crease, igniting Mountaineer bench.
Liberty had a couple close calls in the overtime period before Brown and Morongell came up big in the shootout.
"Scott's playing well and the D-corps back there's doing a real good job," Brown said. "They generate a lot of offense, moving that puck real well. It's always nice to start from the D zone and trust the offense to do their job and hopefully, going into the (March 1-6 ACHA DI national) playoffs, we can keep the ball rolling."
Saturday at 7 p.m., the puck drops for the Flames' regular-season finale, and last game at LaHaye.