DII Flames overcome sluggish start, roll over Rider, 5-2
November 16, 2013 | Lynchburg, Va.
Starting slowly hasn't often been a problem for Liberty University's ACHA Division II men's hockey team, but Saturday afternoon at the LaHaye Ice Center the Flames, ranked No. 3 in the first Southeast Regional poll, got a wake-up call from eighth-ranked Rider University.
The Broncs (9-9-0-1) scored first on a power play in the final three minutes of the first period when Chris Daley put away a pass from fellow junior forward Pat Grilli. The Flames responded decisively, however, scoring four times in the final 12 minutes of the second period, the first on a power play of its own, to seize a commanding 4-1 lead en route to a 5-2 triumph.
"The first period was real sloppy and we spent half the period penalty-killing," Flames Head Coach Chris Lowes said. "We knew we could outplay these guys five-on-five, but we didn't want to get into a special teams battle and unfortunately it did. They got two power-play goals on the night and that's what happens when you take penalties against good teams."
Liberty regrouped in the locker room and came out with a different energy level and work ethic, which sparked the attack.
"Our guys just got in there in the intermission and said, ‘We've got to get this going,'" Lowes said. "We had to put some things together. We hit four or five goal posts in the first, but we just weren't happy with the way our legs were moving. We could have been up big early on, but we knew it was going to be more about effort and intensity level.
"We won the second period 4-0 and that was enough," he added.
Flames freshman forward Devon Docksteader capitalized on a man advantage to tie the game at 1-1 after receiving an assist from sophomore forward Paul Ingles at the 11:43 mark. Liberty then capped the second-period scoring with three goals in the final 3:36.
Ingles, in his first game back after sitting out the past four with a concussion, received a feed from Docksteader in the left crease and lifted the Flames to a 2-1 lead before junior forward Johnny Cotton scored unassisted 22 seconds later.
"Devon made a nice pass across, right to me in the left slot and I scored, then Johnny followed with a nice goal right after that, so that gave us some good momentum going into the third period," Ingles said. "It was good to be back on the first line with the Docks (Docksteader brothers), so it was a good way to return."
"A couple guys stepped up," Lowes added. "Johnny and Paul both got goals that were just outworking other teams. They finished nicely, but it was solid hustle."
Senior forward Brad Docksteader recorded Liberty's last two goals, finishing feeds from his younger brother on both. In the third period, the Flames and Broncs traded power play goals with junior defenseman Clinton Nigh recording a secondary assist on Liberty's, just three minutes after Daley netted his second score to cut Liberty's lead to 4-2 with 15:30 remaining. Brad Docksteader used a second effort to put a wraparound from behind the left side of the cage past Rider goalie Nate Kholodenko.
"The Docksteader brothers did their thing," Lowes said. "They're becoming very reliable at putting pucks in the net."
Liberty outshot the Broncs 41-38 and sophomore goalie Nick Devine made 36 saves.
"Nick played really well when we were struggling in the first period," Lowes said. "They outshot us in the first 15-11, so he did what we needed him to."
The victory over Rider, which lost 4-0 Friday night at No. 2 Virginia Tech, should solidify the Flames' No. 3 ranking, especially after last weekend's three-game sweep of Maryland, UMBC, and Delaware on the road.
Liberty will host its first ACHA DII Showcase next weekend, when it will face Ohio, Monmouth, and North Carolina State.
"It's another weekend we need to get three wins, but it's going to be tough," Lowes said. "We've got a big target on our back."