Flames rally from two goals down to level Lumberjacks, 6-2
March 22, 2014 | Marlborough, Mass.
Not many ACHA Division II teams have the depth that Liberty University's DII men's hockey team does, as it showed as the Flames second-round ACHA DII National Championships game against Northern Arizona progressed, Saturday at the New England Sports Center in Marlborough, Mass.
The Flames (25-7-1) ran four lines at full strength throughout the contest and overcame a 2-0 deficit early in the second period to torch the Lumberjacks (26-12-1), 6-2, scoring three goals in the second and three more in the third.
"Our depth paid off for us today," Liberty Head Coach Chris Lowes said. "They ran three lines and we ran four and all four lines were rolling, especially in the second and third periods."
Liberty (2-0) is now the only undefeated team in its four-team pool and can clinch a bid to Monday's Final Four with a win or a tie against New Hampshire on Sunday at 12:30 p.m. The game will be webcast live on pay-per-view.
"Every team's a little banged up and bruised and tired," Lowes said. "Hopefully, our conditioning will play out in our favor."
As well as they played in the first period against Northern Arizona, the Flames were upset to be trailing 1-0 on a two-on-one break finished by freshman forward Ryan Thompson, who beat Liberty junior goalie Cary Byron inside the post off an assist from senior defenseman Dillon Butenhoff.
Then, with 18:00 left in the second period, Butenhoff netted an unassisted goal.
"We were pretty disappointed to be down 2-0 because we were the stronger team," Lowes said. "The first period, we were pretty dominant. We went down, 1-0, but we still felt confident. When they got another one, the guys just responded and got three goals, the first two within 30 seconds of each other to tie it up."
Josh King scored Liberty's first goal with 10:45 left in the second off a two-on-two rush, lifting a wrist shot over the goalie's pad off an assist from fellow sophomore forward Jeremy Miller.
"That really gave us a spark and ignited us," Lowes said.
Twenty-three seconds later, senior forward Brad Docksteader evened the score at 2-2, finishing far-side off the post and in off a beautiful two-on-one drop-back pass from freshman forward Devon Docksteader.
"We scored back-to-back and at that point, the momentum was all ours," Lowes said.
Less than three minutes later, Brad Docksteader netted the go-ahead score off an assist from junior defenseman Clinton Nigh for a 3-2 advantage, and the Flames were only getting warmed up.
"Then in the third, it was still a tight game, but we poured it on," Lowes said. "With our energy level, they found themselves clutching and grabbing, trying to slow us down and take away our speed."
Sophomore defenseman Parker McIntyre scored with just over five minutes elapsed in the third period on a delayed penalty.
"We pulled our goalie to give us a man advantage and Parker took a nice pass from Bobby Cervone, who found him trailing the play, and scored on a slapshot from the top of the circle in the middle of the ice," Lowes said.
Less than five minutes later, Devon Docksteader made it 5-2 with the first of the Flames' two power-play goal, off assists from junior defenseman Clinton Nigh and Brad Docksteader before Nigh capped the scoring, finishing feeds from sophomore forward Paul Ingles and Brad Docksteader with a one-timed slap shot from the top of the circle off the goalie's shoulder.
Liberty was able to stay out of the penalty box for most of the contest and went on seven power plays to just four for the Lumberjacks.
Northern Arizona actually outshot Liberty 25-24 for the game, with Byron making 23 saves to secure the win.
Now, the Flames are in the driver's seat for a trip to the semifinals.
"If we win, we go on, if we lose, we would be facing a tie-breaker situation with New Hampshire and Grand Valley State," Lowes said, assuming GVSU, which defeated the Wildcats 5-2 on Saturday, beats Northern Arizona. "Their only way to stay alive is to beat us. You need to win to go on, you don't want to have it come down to a tie-breaker."