The Kennesaw State DII men’s hockey team entered Friday’s contest riding a huge wave of momentum and a 16-0 record. That momentum hit a wall at the LaHaye Ice Center when the Liberty Flames defeated the visiting Owls in a shootout, 4-3.
Facing a 3-1 deficit in the third period, Liberty freshman forward Kyle Davis chipped in a goal from the left circle to bring the Flames back within one goal. Five minutes later, sophomore defender Clinton Nigh slapped in the equalizer on an assist from Davis.
Both sides had numerous opportunities to win in the overtime session, but neither did. With no score at the end of the overtime period, there remained only one logical solution — a shootout.
The Owls opened the shootout with a goal when Max Cousineau squeaked the puck by the glove of Flames goalie Nick Devine, putting the Owls on top, 1-0. The Flames response came in the form of a goal by Caleb Allison. The senior forward tied the game with a backhander to the top right of the net.
After five more skaters, the score was unchanged until Liberty freshman Peter Kamzierczak scored the deciding goal — the first goal of his young career. Kamzierczak drove the opposing goalie all the way into his net before tucking the puck between his legs to give the Flames a 4-3 victory.
The loss was Kennesaw State’s first of the year. The win gave the Flames their second victory in a row.
Sloppy puck handling during a power play in the first period led to a counterattack by Kennesaw’s Graham Lieding, resulting in the Owls first score. Within six minutes, Kennesaw State doubled their lead on a goal by Eric Miledi, giving them a 2-0 lead heading into the intermission.
In the opening 10 minutes of the second period, Liberty coughed up 12 turnovers. However, Devine kept the Owls lead at two, standing tall in the face of an unending barrage of shots at his net.
The Flames finally got on the board with a rebound by John Cotton, making the score 2-1 heading into the final period
Saturday, Jan. 19
The Flames won their second game in two nights, defeating the Delaware Blue Hens 8-5 Saturday, Jan. 19. The Flames were powered by the strength of a highlight reel goal by freshman DJ Dinnison.
Liberty took an early 1-0 lead in the first period when assistant captain Brad Docksteader sent a perfect pass to junior forward Bobby Cervone, who tapped in an easy goal. Delaware tied the game later in the first period, but the Flames quickly retaliated with a backhanded goal by freshman Peter Kamzierczak to make the score 2-1.
Late in the first period, Liberty’s third goal was easily a contender for the goal of the season. Dinnison deked his way past three defenders in the open ice before finally beating the keeper and sliding the puck into the back of the net.
“Not too many come like that particular one,” Dinnison said. “I was really just letting the instincts take over there, and it just ended up becoming a really fancy goal. I don’t usually get those kinds of goals, but it’s awesome when it happens.”
Head Coach Chris Lowes was very complimentary of Dinninson’s skills.
“(Dinnison) is a dangerous player, especially on the rush,” Lowes said. “He sees the ice well, and that is just an example of the finish that he has. He is one of the few guys on our team that are natural goal scorers.”
The Blue Hens got off to a fast start in the second period with a quick goal. However, the Flames were able strike back when Docksteader scored his first of two goals, giving the Flames a 4-2 lead.
Later in the second period, freshman Jeff Boschman scored a fifth goal for the Flames, and the Blue Hens answered with a goal of their own. Docksteader then added his second goal on a power play as the Flames closed a busy second period with a 6-3 advantage.
“Playing disciplined was a big thing,” Lowes said. “The first two periods we played great. We didn’t have a single penalty.”
But that discipline did not last until the final buzzer. The third period brought a hard-hitting and emotional 20 minutes of hockey that was full of penalties.
The Flames were able to capitalize on an early power play opportunity in the third period before piling onto their lead in a four-versus-four to create a sizeable
Delaware was able to manufacture two late goals, but it was not enough to overcome a five-goal deficit.
“It started getting chippy, and there were lots of big hits. Guys were emotional,” Lowes said. “I thought we handled ourselves pretty good. But we unfortunately gave them an opportunity to close the gap a little.”
The Flames will return to the LaHaye Ice Center Jan. 27 to play Christopher Newport University.