Monday, April 21, 2014

Clean sweep

Hockey derails No. 4 Delaware

Liberty’s Division I men’s hockey team played host to the No. 4 Delaware Blue Hens Friday, Nov. 8 and Saturday, Nov. 9 at the LaHaye Ice Center.

Last year, the Blue Hens swept the Flames, but this year, the Flames made sure that would not be the case. The Flames defeated the Blue Hens 6-1 Friday night, and 5-4 Saturday night in a shootout.

LU 6, Delaware 1

In the first game, the Flames began the opening period strong. A few minutes into the game, senior forward Lindsay LeBlanc scored the Flames first goal, giving Liberty a 1-0 lead.

HIP CHEcK — The Flames handed out big hits against Delaware. Photo credit: Ruth Bibby

HIP CHECK — The Flames handed out big hits against Delaware. Photo credit: Ruth Bibby

Late in the first period, sophomore forward Charles Williams scored the Flames second goal on a beautiful shot, making the score 2-0.

In the second period, Delaware tightened up defensively, and neither team scored through the entire period of play.

Four minutes into the third period, senior forward Andrew McCombe scored the Flames third goal, giving Liberty a 3-0 advantage.

However, the Blue Hens fought back, scoring a goal with a little less than six minutes left in the game, making the score 3-1.

It appeared that the Blue Hens were gaining momentum when they scored again just seconds later. But the goal was called back, and the score remained 3-1.

After the reversal, McCombe scored his second goal of the night, bringing the score to 4-1.

Less than one minute later, junior forward Ryan Kerr scored, making the score 5-1.

Sophomore forward Kyle Garcia scored next with just seven seconds left in the game, securing a 6-1 victory for the Flames.

Although the Flames finished with a 6-1 win, Head Coach Kirk Handy acknowledged the challenge that the Blue Hens brought.

“It wasn’t a 6-1 game,” Handy said. “It was a tight, close game. Delaware is a good opponent.”

The Flames did what they had to at the right times in order to secure the victory.

“In some of those moments, we had some key blocks … and some key plays,” Handy said. “It was encouraging, thinking about the guys that scored tonight.”

LU 5, Delaware 4

The Flames defeated the Blue Hens in the second game of the weekend series in nail-biting fashion.

After junior forward Lindsay LeBlanc shot the puck past Delaware freshman goalie Dylan Trojano in the final minute of play, the game went into a shootout to determine the winner.

Freshman forward Charles Williams and junior forward Ryley Egan scored the game-tying and winning goals in the shootout respectively, giving Liberty the 5-4 victory.

Liberty, ranked No. 7 in the ACHA, extended its winning streak to nine straight games.

“Tonight was all about focus and working together as a team to battle through the goals that Delaware threw back in our face each time we would score,” LeBlanc said. “The focus and determination of our team as a whole in front of and behind the net was what truly allowed us to walk away this weekend with two wins against a great team.”

After a scoreless first period, LeBlanc netted Liberty’s first goal of the game on an assist from sophomore defenseman Steven Bellew less than a minute into the second period, giving the Flames a 1-0 advantage.

McCombe scored the second Liberty goal off a pass from freshman forward Brandon Mistal during the last minute of the second period.

Tyson Street then netted the third goal on an assist from Kyle Garcia, giving the Flames a 3-2 lead.

“Everyone stepped up tonight, whether it was Blair Bennett deflecting pucks in the cage or the defensemen working short-handed,” Street said.

It seemed that Delaware clinched the game when Blue Hens junior forward Wes Bonnell maneuvered through the left crease and fired a backhanded shot past Liberty senior goalie Blair Bennett, making the Delaware lead 4-3 with six minutes left in the third period.

But with a minute left to go in regulation, LeBlanc weaved down the ice and scored his second goal, tying the score at 4-4 and sending the game into a shootout.

Delaware gained an early advantage in the shootout when Bonnell managed the first goal, but Delaware’s next four shootout attempts were denied by Bennett.

When it was Liberty’s turn at the net, Williams scored on a backhanded shot into the net, tying the shootout 1-1. Egan took the final shootout attempt in the game, and had the winning goal on a shot into the left side of the net.

“Tonight’s game truly reflects our team’s drive and motivation to compete and win,” Egan said. “We did not come into this weekend with the mindset of thinking we would get two wins, but hard work and outplaying the Hens is what gave us these wins.”

The Flames will take on Stony Brook University Nov. 15 at 7p.m. at the LaHaye Ice Center.

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