No. 10 Lady Flames turn tables on No. 1 Miami in rematch
January 24, 2014 | Lynchburg, Va.
A day after recording both assists in Liberty University's ACHA Division I women's hockey team's 4-2 loss to Miami (Ohio) University, junior forward Amanda Grainger assisted one go-ahead goal and scored another in Friday's rematch, a 4-3 victory over the No. 1-ranked team in the nation at the LaHaye Ice Center.
"It was a good win, we needed it," Liberty Head Coach Paul Bloomfield said. "The girls actually played 60 minutes of hockey. They didn't lose momentum and kept coming back. It was great. There was fire in the hole. They wanted it and finally, we got some desperado, where they were saying, ‘We've got to do it.'"
With 10:58 left in the third period, Grainger gathered the loose puck of a shot sent through the crease by freshman forward Courtney Gilmour and deflected on net by senior forward Nikki McCombe and converted the putback past Miami senior goalie Dana Lovin from a tough angle near the left post for a 3-2 lead.
"Grainger's goal was just nothing short of hard work," Bloomfield said. "That just happened because she didn't quit. That's her strength, scrappy and a hard worker around the net."
Less than two minutes later, Carrie Jickling added an insurance goal with a backhanded rebound of a shot by fellow sophomore forward Catharine Burrell, who returned from an injury suffered at Miami last year, to extend Liberty's lead to 4-2.
Liberty's second line, made up of Grainger, McCombe, and freshman forward Courtney Gilmour, was especially effective in the two games against the Redhawks, with Gilmour scoring the game's first goal just two and a half minutes after the opening faceoff.
Miami freshman forward Katie Augustine, who scored the game-winning goal for Team USA against Japan in the bronze medal game of last month's World University Games in Italy, assisted the equalizer with just under 2:00 left in the first period. Her shot from the high slot was deflected in by junior center Lindsey Ellis.
The game remained tied for nearly 19 minutes before Liberty junior defenseman Madi Fischer launched a shot from the high slot and Grainger pushed the rebound through to McCombe, who finished from the left crease for a 2-1 advantage.
Miami outshot Liberty 31-26 for the game, but Lady Flames sophomore goalie Kristina Toppazzini made 29 saves, holding Rachael Booth, the leading scorer in ACHA Division I, scoreless. However, another freshman forward, Jordan Hanson, knotted the game at 2-2 for the Redhawks eight minutes into the third period. She stole a cross-ice pass as Liberty transitioned out of its defensive zone and finished a one-on-one with Toppazzini with a left-handed wrist shot.
Grainger put the Lady Flames (10-8-4) back on top to stay 54 seconds later and Jickling's final goal held up as the game-winner after Miami freshman left-winger Kaley Mooney's slapshot found the five-hole with less than a minute left in regulation.
The Redhawks (18-2-2) pulled Lovin for the final 52.5 seconds, giving them a five-on-four edge, but Liberty's defense tightened and closed out the one-goal win.
"Yesterday, we outplayed them, but we just gave up some mistakes and they capitalized and today, we really played better," Grainger said. "We all played 60 minutes and when they got their last goal in the final minute, we didn't give up. When they pulled their goalie, we just kept going."
Liberty assistant coach Justin Forth predicted before Friday's game that it would determine whether or not the Lady Flames made it back to the ACHA DI National Tournament, where they finished runner-up last season. Only the top eight teams in the final rankings advance.
"Rankings come out Sunday night and this has got to help us," Bloomfield said.
"Hopefully, this brings us up in the rankings and we can make it to nationals," Grainger added. "Now we have momentum going into the next weekend when we play Northeastern."
The seventh-ranked Huskies, who tied and defeated the Lady Flames Nov. 2-3 in Boston, visit the LaHaye Ice Center next Saturday at 5:30 p.m. and Sunday at 9:45 a.m.