Flames take game from No.1

Coach Handy’s crew splits series with ACHA-leading Ohio U.

Air time — Bram Erickson looks to gain possession of the puck. Photo credit: Ruth Bibby

Liberty University’s Division I men’s hockey team fell just short Friday Oct. 26, losing 3-2 to No. 1 Ohio University at the LaHaye Ice Center.

“We needed to play a physical game and get on the puck hard, win battles and stay out of the penalty box,” Liberty forward Christian Garland said.

The Bobcats started fast, scoring within the first three minutes. The goal was scored by Nathan De La Torre, who was assisted by Nicholas Hudeck. Several minutes later, Ohio scored again, increasing the lead to 2-0.

The Flames got on the board later in the first period on a power play, with a goal by Cam Bakker making the score 2-1. Ohio came back after the break when Tom Whetsel scored in the first two minutes of the second period, extending Ohio’s lead to 3-1.
Halfway through the second period, Liberty’s Rick Turner scored with an assist from Kyle Garcia to bring the goal deficit back to one.

Flames fans rose to their feet at the start of the final period in hopes of a Flames comeback against the top club hockey team in the country.

Split decisions— Freshman Tyson Street (61) battles for position against an Ohio Bobcat defender. Photo credit: Ruth Bibby

But with 30 seconds remaining, the Flames final shot from Andrew McCombe rang off the crossbar — preserving the win for the visiting Bobcats.

“There are a lot of positives we could take out of the loss,” Scott Morongell said. “Everyone on the team was focused that they were No. 1, and we probably played one of the best games of the season because everyone was on focus.”

Ohio goalie Fedor Dushkin made 32 saves, while Liberty’s Blair Bennett had 26.

LU steals victory from top club

Liberty’s D1 hockey team came through with a 4-3 win against the No. 1 ranked Ohio University Bobcats Saturday, Oct. 27 at the LaHaye Ice Center. The win broke a six-game losing streak for the Flames.

“Tonight went great,” senior starter Rick Turner said. “We were able to beat the No. 1 team, so it’s safe to say it was a pretty good night, and we couldn’t be happier. We were stumbling a bit up until this point, but this game could be setting us up for a winning streak, so hopefully that happens.”

Coming back from a loss of 3-2 against the Bobcats Friday night, the win was a great accomplishment for the Flames.

“The win feels even better, seeing as yesterday we knew we were right there, but it was just a few, small mistakes that got us the loss. We knew today that if we fixed those mistakes that we’d be on the winning side and that’s exactly what happened,” senior Scott Morongell said.

An Ohio player is slammed into the Liberty goal box early in Friday night’s game. Photo credit: Ruth Bibby

The game began somewhat slow, remaining 0-0 through the first period. The Panthers attempted many shots, but goalie Blair Bennett made 12 saves during the first.

Sophomore Ryley Egan scored first for the Flames within the first minute of the second period. Freshman Steven Bellew scored shortly thereafter to give the Flames a 2-0 lead. The goal was his fifth of the season.

With nine minutes left in the second period, Ohio scored its first, and then tied the game two minutes later.

The Flames came back with passes from Matt Sherry and Luke Baumgarten, setting Turner up for his 22nd goal of the season. Bennett made another great save before Ohio scored its last goal, making it 3-3 at the end of the second period.

Bakker broke the nerve-racking tie with only a minute and 16 seconds left in the game, which pushed the score to 4-3, giving the Flames the pleasure of beating the highest-ranked team in the nation.

“The puck wasn’t bouncing our way early in the period,” Morongell said. “But we got our hitting lines going and we took it to them, and basically in the end, we had better endurance and they couldn’t skate with us.”

“We were off to a good start and then got into a rough patch,” sophomore Ryley Egan said. “We lost six games in a row so it’s nice to finally get a win.”

The Flames next game against the Stony Brook University Seawolves is set for Friday, Nov. 2 at 7 p.m. at the LaHaye Ice Center.

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