Club Sports News

DII Flames give up shorthanded, power play goals to UMBC

February 15, 2014  |  Abingdon, Md. 

Junior goalie Cary Byron guards the cage in front of sophomore forward Paul Ingles.

Liberty University's ACHA Division II men's hockey team jumped on top of University of Maryland Baltimore County twice in their Mid-Atlantic Collegiate Hockey Association South Division playoff final Saturday night at IceWorld in Abingdon, Md.

But the Retrievers (22-6-1) kept coming back and eventually knocked the Flames (24-7-2) by a 3-2 count, eliminating the MACHA regular-season champions and advancing to Sunday's final against the winner of the North Division final between Penn State and Rowan.

"We were ranked ahead of them in our league, they were ranked ahead of us in the (ACHA DII South) Regional poll," Liberty Head Coach Chris Lowes said, noting the two teams had split during the regular season, with UMBC winning a 4-3 overtime decision on Jan. 25 at the LaHaye Ice Center. "If we play these guys 10 times, we'd probably win five of them. We're evenly matched and very similar as far as scoring punch. Both teams have a top scoring line that is pretty dynamic. Their top line had two goals and our top line had two goals tonight."

The Flames outshot UMBC 29-20 for the game and opened the scoring when freshman defenseman Ryan Sidun finished off feeds from sophomore forward Paul Ingles and freshman forward Devon Docksteader 15 minutes into the action.

Midway through the second period, freshman forward Ryan Atkinson, the Retrievers' leading scorer, netted the equalizer off assists from sophomore forward Jean Luc Durantaye and junior forward Matthew Bloom.

Four minutes later, Docksteader put Liberty back on top by converting off a nice passing combination from sophomore defenseman Ryan Francis and Ingles. But that lead only held up for three minutes before sophomore forward Zac Tracy knotted it back up for UMBC unassisted after the Flames turned the puck over in their own crease. 

"The shorthanded goal changed the momentum," Lowes said. "We were playing well until they tied the game up on a turnover and that zapped a lot of our energy."

Then, two minutes into the third period, Bloom scored the deciding goal on a power play goal off assists from senior defenseman Ben Rafferty and freshman forward Pierce McCaull on a shot from the point that landed high in the net over Liberty junior goalie Cary Byron's shoulder.

"They were playing well in the third and that's the way it happens," Lowes said. "In the third, we were down and started stressing a little bit and couldn't come back. Their goalie played really well. We had a  lot of chances and didn't capitalize on some of them. That's just the way the game went."

Liberty will return to LaHaye to host the ACHA DII South Regionals for the first time next Saturday and Sunday. The Flames will open play Saturday at 6 p.m. against Delaware, the team it beat in Friday's MACHA opener.

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