DI Flames suffer season's first setback in Arizona opener
October 11, 2013 | Lynchburg, Va.
Two clean-up goals off failed clears and a steal and breakaway score — all in a two-and-a-half-minute stretch of the second period — extended Arizona's one-goal lead to four in a 5-1 upset of the previously undefeated Liberty University ACHA Division I men's hockey team, Friday night at the LaHaye Ice Center.
"We turned the puck over a lot and our puck management wasn't very good tonight," Flames head coach Kirk Handy said. "We gave them two or three opportunities because we were unable to break out of our zone. That hurts, and leaves our goalie out to dry."
After sweeping No. 10 Ohio on its home ice last weekend, the Flames (7-1) ascended four spots — from No. 14 to No. 10 — in the third ACHA DI poll released earlier in the day. Meanwhile, the Wildcats (3-2) moved up one position, from No. 20 to No. 19, despite being swept decisively by No. 2 Arizona State.
But Arizona got two goals and an assist from both Michael Ferreira and Ansel Ivens-Anderson and snapped Liberty's seven-game winning streak in surprisingly one-sided fashion.
After giving up a power play goal to Andrew Murmes midway through the first period, the Flames struck back just 2:15 later when freshman forward Charles Williams converted off assists from sophomore forward Bram Erickson and senior defenseman Jackson Kuhn.
But Ivens-Anderson responded just 39 seconds later, finishing a feed from Ferreira to lift the Wildcats to a 2-1 advantage with 5:39 left in the first.
Liberty started the game on attack, but couldn't capitalize on its opportunities. For the night, the Flames outshot the Wildcats 38-28, with Arizona goalie Steven Sisler making 27 saves in just his second start between the pipes.
"I thought we had a good start," Handy said. "I thought we generated a fair number of shots. We had lots of chances, but we have to bear down around the net because there were a lot of opportunities we had that we missed the net on. We have to make sure those shots are going in the net."
All three of Arizona's second-period scores came off shots in the left circle, sparked by Ferreira, who snuck a loose puck past Liberty goalie Matt Pinel. Moments later, Ivens-Anderson beat Pinel through the five-hole, pushing the Wildcats' lead to 4-1 and prompting Handy to pull Pinel and replace him with senior Blair Bennett. Twenty-one seconds later, before Bennett had a chance to fully warm up, Ferreira stole the puck near Liberty's blue line, skated in and deposited a quick wrist shot into the upper netting.
"It was a nice shot," Handy said. "You can't blame the goalies on a night like tonight. It's the guys in front of them that need to do a better job defending our goalie.
"The big thing for us is making sure we're focusing on all three zones," he added. "In our own zone, the D's got to get the puck off the boards and we've got to get out quicker. We spent too much time in our zone tonight."
He expects the Flames to put their first loss out of mind and focus on Saturday night's rematch, as they did last season at LaHaye, rebounding from a 4-2 setback one night with a 5-2 triumph the next.
"We have confidence in our team," Handy said. "We have to regroup and bear down on our opportunities. It's a hockey game. We have to do better and (Saturday) we will do better."