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The Flames (12-1) continued to stay hot over the weekend, improving on their five game home winning streak. Liberty outscored its opponents 11-3 in two games to defeat the Rochester Warriors (4-5) twice, Oct 25-26.
LU 4, Rochester 2
Liberty came out of the gates looking very “complacent … expecting it to be easy,” according to Head Coach Kirk Handy.
“Rochester College played well,” Handy said. “They’re going to battle, and we need to battle for all 60 minutes in order to be successful.”
Both teams played good defense and received solid play out of their goalies during the early portions of the first period. However, Rochester broke the scoring drought with 6:45 left in the first period when forward Brock Malatches fed the puck to forward Doug Lindensmith, who put it in the net. The two teams then continued their solid defensive play, bringing the first period to a close with the score 1-0 in favor of Rochester.
After 15 minutes had passed in the second period, defenseman Cam Bakker put Liberty on the board. The Flames stormed down the ice and pushed ahead of the Rochester defensemen.
The Flames got three quick shots off, including one by Robert Ward and another by forward DJ Dinnison, before Bakker finally put the third shot past Rochester goalie Zakk Olvin.
With 5:44 left to play in the second period, Rochester’s Joe Giordano sent a shot on goal that bounced off Liberty goalie Blair Bennett but was then rebounded by Josh Foster and put in for Rochester’s second goal. Assists were given to Giordano and Doug Lindensmith.
The second period ended in exciting fashion as Liberty’s Charles Williams subbed into the game with four seconds remaining and the puck coming toward him. Williams quickly sent a hard shot to the goal, which Olvin saved but then bobbled. The puck was batted around until Olvin finally found it and covered it with 0.7 seconds left on the clock. The period ended with Rochester still up by a goal.
The third period was a completely different story for Liberty. Less than two minutes into the period, Liberty tied the game, courtesy of forward Brandon Mistal. Less than 30 seconds later, Kyle Garcia added a goal of his own off a bobbled Rochester save, giving Liberty a 3-2 lead. Mistal scored an insurance goal with 1:33 left in the game to push the final score to 4-2.
“We knew that if we came out and played a good, hard period that we would be there in the end,” Mistal said. “Liberty showed great resilience throughout the game, and although it took 40 minutes for something to click, a win is a win. I am sure that is a fact all the Liberty players are grateful for.”
LU 7, Rochester 1
Rochester found Liberty to be a force to be reckoned with after losing Saturday in the second game of the doubleheader. Liberty demonstrated offensive prowess in a game that resulted in a 7-1 victory over the Warriors.
After scoring the first goal against Liberty freshman goalie Matt Pinel, Rochester College managed to keep the Flames at bay with a 1-0 advantage until the second period began. As was the case in Friday’s game, the Flames got off to a slow start.
Despite the shaky start, Liberty bounced back with three goals in three minutes to seize control of the game.
Williams scored the first goal for the Flames early in the second period. Williams got the puck past Rochester goaltender Brenden Kruckenberg on an assist from Bram Erickson.
“The team was fired up to score such quality shots during the power play,” forward Lindsay LeBlanc said. “Erickson was definitely where he needed to be to feed the puck to Williams for the goal that got the team on the winning side.” LeBlanc said.
The second goal came seconds later after Williams shot the puck straight past Kruckenberg on an assist from LeBlanc.
“We definitely benefited in this game after getting the guys back who were suspended in (Friday’s) game,” junior forward Ryley Egan said. “(Andrew) McCombe and Erickson both had great games that contributed to the win over Rochester College.”
Egan netted Liberty’s third goal against the Warriors moments after Williams’ second goal. Ending the second period with a bang, sophomore forward Kyle Garcia buried the puck on a rebound from Tyson Street with two minutes left in the period. In addition, Brandon Mistal scored the fifth goal of the game on an assist from Williams with less than 10 seconds left in the second period.
Liberty then managed two more goals against the Warriors. In the third period, Dinnison scored Liberty’s sixth goal with 17 minutes left in the game, and Danny Logan finished off Liberty’s seventh goal three minutes later on an assist from Erickson.
Pinel had 20 saves against the Warriors, who were outshot by the Flames 45-21.
“We definitely played some shutout Liberty hockey tonight,” Williams said. “It was a great weekend building our skills as a team. Each line really worked together to create an all-around winning offense tonight. We look forward to taking on Eastern Michigan next weekend on our home ice.”
The Flames will continue their home stretch against Eastern Michigan University Nov. 1 at 7 p.m.