Flames take Fla. Gulf Coast by storm, turn tides in rematch
January 18, 2014 | Lynchburg, Va.
One night after being outmatched and overwhelmed by visiting Florida Gulf Coast University in a humbling 8-1 defeat, Liberty University's ACHA Division II men's hockey team turned the tables on the Eagles, Saturday at the LaHaye Ice Center, thoroughly dismantling the top-ranked team in the Southeast Region, 8-5.
"It was night and day performance by our team," Flames Head Coach Chris Lowes said. "I'm real happy with the effort and the result. It was just a whole different game and a great response by our guys after such a disappointing night on Friday. We saw all the things we were doing wrong, the energy level was high, and we began to execute."
In a showdown between two of the ACHA's top scorers, Liberty senior forward Brad Docksteader (33 goals, 35 assists) got the upper hand against FGCU junior forward Daniel Echeverri (34G, 39A). Docksteader and his younger brother Devon, a freshman forward, each netted hat tricks and sophomore forward Paul Ingles, the third member of the Flames' most prolific scoring line, also scored, accounting for seven of Liberty's eight goals.
"They proved that to me they're the best line in the country," Lowes said. "To do that against as high a caliber of an opponent as Florida Gulf Coast is shows that. We're a very dangerous team playing with the lead. Right off the start, we had some good early shifts, the guys got some confidence with some solid possessions of length in their zone. We were just flying, swarming around their net and eliminating their scoring chances."
Sophomore forward Eric Burke also scored for the Flames in the second period, when they built a 6-0 lead before FGCU scored with three seconds to go to ignite a third-period comeback.
Liberty's remaining lines played more defensive-minded games.
"We had our other lines out there against their top scoring lines, asking them to fulfill more of a shut-down role, and they did their job for the most part," Lowes said.
After being held without a goal on Friday, Echeverri was limited to two assists in Saturday's rematch.
"He's a dynamic player, as a playmaker and a goal-scorer," Lowes said. "On Friday night, one of the few positives was that we held him scoreless."
The Flames did that again on Saturday thanks to the efforts of junior forward and captain Johnny Cotton and defensemen Daniel Huntington, a freshman, and Greg White, a graduate student, as well as junior goalie Cary Byron.
"Florida Gulf Coast was struggling to get the chances like we were on Friday," Lowes said. "Both teams saw the switch in performances. We were just focused on our guys. It was hard to tell how much our efforts caused their struggles."
Liberty (22-5) outshot the Eagles in the first two periods before being outshot, and outscored 4-2, in the third.
"You can't afford to make mistakes against them and we saw how dangerous they are in the third period, when, suddenly, they had the momentum," Lowes said. "Fortunately, we had built up enough of a lead and the guys were able to weather the storm."
Three of the Flames' five losses this season have come to FGCU (19-2-1), so they were pleased to avoid being swept by the 2012 ACHA DII national champions.
"It's a huge win for us," Lowes said. "They're a powerhouse Division II team for sure. They're a national team and the toughest team we've faced all year. For us to get the final of the four games was a great way to end our series with them."