Flames' offense snuffed for first time since Nov. 11, 2011
November 16, 2013 | Lynchburg, Va.
The wheels came off the train for Liberty University's ACHA Division I men's hockey team in the second game of its series against Stony Brook and final game of a 12-game homestand at the LaHaye Ice Center.
A night after losing a one-goal lead in the final 12 seconds of regulation, the Seawolves (12-3-1) scored single goals in the first and second periods and added two more in the opening 10 minutes of the third to snap the Flames' 10-game winning streak. The 4-0 setback was Liberty's first shutout loss since Nov. 11, 2011 at home against Delaware.
"It just wasn't the game we were looking for, obviously," Head Coach Kirk Handy said after the Flames, No. 4 in the latest ACHA DI rankings, fell to the No. 11 Stony Brook. "We didn't play a very smart game tonight. We just weren't mentally focused, at the level we need to be to play against those teams."
Both teams took 26 shots on goal, but the Flames were stonewalled by Seawolves goalie Brendan Jones and Liberty freshman Matt Pinel, who ranks second among rookies with nine wins, suffered his second loss in 11 starts.
"We had opportunities, but there weren't a lot of them," Handy said. "Their goalie played well and we just didn't get the shots through. They had their chances and the second goal they scored was a real nice goal."
The Seawolves struck first midway through the first period when senior captain Dan Cassano deked past a defender and skated the puck along the boards up the right wing before feeding it to fellow forward Billy Freely in the right crease. Freely sent a short pass across the crease to a trailing junior forward Ryan Cotcamp for the first of his two goals on the night, and 18th of the season, moving into third among ACHA DI scorers.
Cassano, meanwhile, picked up his 20th assist, also third most in the league, and added a goal with 2:22 left in the second period, extending Stony Brook's lead to 2-0. He maneuvered around two Liberty defenders and lifted a wrist shot from inside the left circle that beat Pinel top shelf.
Then in the third period, Seawolves forward Nick Deresky stole the puck back on a rebound in front of the net and slung a shot into the back of the net to make it 3-0 before Cotcamp slid a shot through the legs of Pinel three minutes later and the Flames folded up their tents for the night.
"It was a disappointment, but we still believe in our team," Handy said. "We're going to move on and take our next step forward. There's areas we see for improvement from tonight for this week in practice and we're looking forward to the opportunity to play next weekend. It wasn't the result that we wanted tonight, but we'll get back to work Monday and we'll be good to go next week. We leave early Wednesday for the road trip to Michigan."
The Flames travel to face Davenport on Thursday before playing a two-game series at Oakland (Mich.) They will return to LaHaye for a game against rival Virginia Tech to close out the 2013 slate on Dec. 7 before opening 2014 at Stony Brook (N.Y.) on Jan. 11 and 12.