Club Sports News

DI Flames mount furious rally to climb past Mountaineers

September 21, 2013  |  Morgantown, W.Va. 

Liberty senior defender Jackson Kuhn (7) and sophomore forward Kyle Garcia (18) work the puck up ice against West Virginia last February at the LaHaye Ice Center. Kuhn scored his fifth goal and distributed his fourth assist in four games Saturday to share the team scoring lead with Robert Ward.

Trailing host West Virginia 3-1 in the closing seconds of the second period, Saturday at the Morgantown Municipal Ice Arena, Liberty University's ACHA Division I men's hockey team rallied for three goals in a span of 54 seconds to take a 4-3 lead. The resurgent Flames seized command from that point en route to a 6-3 victory, completing a series sweep of the Mountaineers.

"We played a very, very good third period of hockey," Liberty head coach Kirk Handy said, noting the Flames outshot WVU 21-2 over the final 20 minutes but only 48-29 for the game. "It was a great team effort. To be down 3-1 late in the second period and to score with eight seconds left in second period and two more in the 46 seconds in the third period was a huge swing in momentum, for sure. Timely scoring helped us out tonight, especially in the third period."

Up until that scoring flurry, West Virginia had played inspired hockey, a day after suffering a 7-2 setback in its season-opener against the Flames.

"For a lot of the game, we were just kind of matching their intensity," Handy said. "In the third period, we took it to another level, like we did in the second period last night. It was a good game. They played a lot better than they did last night and it was good for us to be on the road and see how our guys respond."

Two and a half minutes into the second period, Liberty knotted the score at 1-1 when junior forward Ryley Egan converted off assists from Robert Ward and Cam Bakker. But WVU reclaimed the lead with a power play goal a minute and a half later and added another with a man advantage to capture the 3-1 edge with 7:49 left in the second.

Egan capitalized again off assists from defenders Matt Sherry and Jackson Kuhn to draw the Flames back within 3-2. Then, just nine seconds after the third-period faceoff, Ward tied the contest at 3-3, burying assists from Kyle Garcia and Steven Bellew in front of the cage. Thirty-seven seconds later, Kuhn finished feeds from Ward and Egan to put the Flames on top for the first time, and to stay.

Bakker netted the game's final two goals on power plays assisted by Lindsay LeBlanc and Andrew McCombe, respectively, with 13:10 and 1:05 remaining in regulation.

"Some of our role players had strong games tonight," Handy said.

Kuhn (five goals, four assists), Ward (three goals, six assists), and Egan (four goals, five assists) are now tied for Liberty's scoring lead on the young season.

The Flames return to the LaHaye Ice Center next Friday night to host Towson University before traveling to Ohio University, the third-ranked team in the preseason ACHA DI poll, on Oct. 4 and 5.

"We're 4-0 now so this puts us in the position we hoped we'd be in at this point on the season and gets us ready to get into the heart of our schedule," Handy said. "The guys are working hard and we're looking forward to Towson this weekend. Every week, our goal is to get better and better. This is another test, another opportunity."

 

By Ted Allen/Staff Writer

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