Sunday, April 20, 2014

Hockey remains perfect

Liberty’s D1 hockey team countinues its winning streak Friday Sept. 28

Dominance — The Flames outscored the Colonials 23-3 in their two-game series this weekend. Photo credit: Ruth Bibby

Liberty University’s D1 hockey team continued a seventh-game homestand with a triumphant win of 12-1 against Robert Morris University this past Friday, Sept. 28.

“Overall, we are very happy with the way our team played,” Head Coach Kirk Handy said. “Our goal since day one has been to get better every night and continue to build and do things that are going to make us a successful team at the end of the year. We felt like we had a good start tonight and got the lines rolling, and it was good to see.”

The team’s season has been off to a fantastic start, with the Flames winning seven games in a row and facing no defeats.

“It was a 12-1 win,” junior starter Lindsey Leblanc said. “We definitely weren’t expecting that, but we played hard for 60 minutes and came through with a win.”

The first goal of the night was scored by freshman Tyson Street only 56 seconds into the game, leading the Flames into an extremely successful game. Luke Baumgarten and Rick Turner were the next to score, giving the Flames a lead of 3-0.

Leblanc made his sixth goal of the season, and Turner followed with his second goal of the night after receiving a pass from sophomore Steven Bellew. Ryley Egan was the next to score. Bellew, Bram Erickson and Turner all scored the ending goals of the period, making it 9-0.

Halfway into the second period, Leblanc scored again. Junior Clayton Brown scored the next one after making his eighth successful save of the game. Kyle Garcia made the last goal for the Flames in the third period before Robert Morris University scored its only goal, making it 12-1.

Turner had three goals and four assists during the game, and has so far scored a goal every game of the 2012 season.

The success of the Liberty men’s hockey team has made them very confident for the future.

“The boys played really well tonight,” senior starter Scott Morongell said. “Keep up the good work, and we’re looking forward to being 8-0 after tomorrow.”

“The season seems to be going really well,” Leblanc said.

“It’s 7-0, and we’re ranked ninth in the country right now. Our goal this year is to win nationals. It’s just step by step, and we have a long season ahead.”

Saturday Night

Riding the momentum from a huge win Friday, the Flames steam rolled the Colonials again, earning an 11-2 win en route to a perfect 8-0 record.

With eight individual players finding the back of the net, Handy noted the improvement of his roster’s productivity.

“We are starting to get balanced scoring in our lineup…plus the consistency of our effort each game,” Handy said.

One full month of its schedule, the Flames are starting to mesh better as a unit, according to Associate Head Coach Jeff Boettger.

“The team in action now, compared to the initial games, has definitely taken strides forward,” Boettger said. “Our defensemen are playing well, really striving to get up in the play and keep the gaps tight with opposing forwards. We have also seen an improvement simply by having more time for linemates to gel as they play more together. Our passes are finding each other more often, and plays on the boards and around the opposing team’s net are producing greater offense.”

The Flames dominated on the ice, getting off to an early lead with freshman Kyle Garcia’s goal in the third minute of the first period.

“Kyle Garcia had another strong game for us,” Handy said. “He is becoming a strong player for us. His work ethic and determination allow him to be very effective.”

Garcia started an offensive explosion for the Flames. Following his first goal, Ryan Kerr netted his second goal of the year. Garcia followed with another, and senior Rick Turner recorded his 14th of the young season after a Robert Morris goal snuck by goalie Blair Bennett. Bennett finished with 11 saves on 13 shots.

Throughout the night, the Flames showed their ability to score quickly, including Luke Baumgarten’s goal that came 33 seconds into the second period. The Colonials would answer with a goal, and Turner countered with his second goal of the night.

Headed into the third period, Liberty’s Christian Garland’s scored from the faceoff.
The onslaught continued as freshman Danny Logan recorded his first goal for Liberty, following Turner’s third goal.

Turner posted his fourth hat trick of the season.

“Rick (Turner) has also demonstrated more this year than ever that he can play in all three zones of the ice and that big games require him to give on the defensive side of the puck as well,” Boettger said. “This is important to his overall effectiveness and growth as a leader on the team.”

Turner currently leads the Flames with 16 regulation goals, and also posted a goal in a shootout.

Freshman Bram Erickson closed out the game with his first goal of the night with just 21 seconds left on the clock. The Flames won 11-2.

Starting the season at No. 9 in the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) rankings, the Flames jumped to No. 8 on Sept. 28.

Liberty’s next stop is Springfield, Ill., for the 10th Annual Men’s D1 Showcase. The Flames will look to stay perfect, facing the University of Oklahoma, Minot State University and Robert Morris on Oct. 5-7.

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