Monday, July 28, 2014

Mountaineers grounded

Liberty’s Division I hockey team stretched its winning streak to five games

Momentum — Liberty capped off a weekend sweep of West Virginia with a 3-2 overtime victory Saturday night. Photo credit: Courtney Russo

Momentum — Liberty capped off a weekend sweep of West Virginia with a 3-2 overtime victory Saturday night. Photo credit: Courtney Russo

The Liberty Flames Division I (DI) men’s hockey team completed a four-game season sweep against the West Virginia University (WVU) Mountaineers Feb. 14-15. The victories extended the Flames winning streak to five games and improved their record to 24-6-2.

Liberty 5, West Virgina 2

A strong showing in the first two periods helped lead the Flames to a 5-2 victory over the Mountaineers Friday Feb. 14.

Liberty scored its first goal when the WVU goalie failed to completely stop the puck on a shot by Bram Erickson. Flames sophomore Danny Logan gathered the rebound and put the puck into the net for the early lead.

After gaining a 1-0 lead in the first period, the Flames scored three goals in the second period to give themselves a commanding 4-0 advantage.

Freshman defenseman Chase Harris gave the Flames their first goal in the second period, slipping the puck into the right side of the net after receiving a pass from Andrew McCombe.

Lindsay LeBlanc scored the next goal after maneuvering around two Mountaineer defenders to get a clear shot at the net, giving the Flames a 3-0 lead.

Flames captain Matt Sherry capped off the scoring run with a long shot from the left circle that was then deflected into the net by Danny Logan.

“With those shots, you just look for an open lane and hope that something will happen, and Logan was there to tip it in,” Sherry said.

After their fast start, the Flames gave up three power plays in the final period, but the Mountaineers only managed to convert one of those scoring chances into a goal. Flames Head Coach Kirk Handy said afterward that he would have liked to have seen a complete performance by his team.

“I thought the first 40 minutes we played well,” Handy said. “We got away from our game in the third period. We took three penalties that we don’t want to have there obviously, and they were able to win the third period 2-1.”

Handy called a timeout a quarter of the way into the third period to remind his team of the need to focus and play through to the end of the game.

“I just didn’t like what I saw,” Handy said. “We thought it was a good time to call a timeout to try and channel the guys’ energy back into the game. Something for tomorrow that we will tighten down on is to play 60 minutes of hockey and play disciplined for 60 minutes.”

The Flames succeeded in holding WVU to only four shots in each of the first two periods, but allowed 10 in the third period. The Mountaineers were able to capitalize with two goals, bringing the final score to 5-2 in favor of the Flames.

Liberty 3, West Virgnia 2

After defeating the Mountaineers Friday, the Flames took the ice Saturday night with the same objective in mind — winning. And they accomplished just that.

The first period began with a slow start, but minutes into the first period, sophomore forward DJ Dinnison fired a quick goal into the back of the net, giving the Flames a 1-0 lead. Dinnison’s goal sent Flames fans into a frenzy as hundreds of teddy bears hit the ice.

The Flames hosted their annual Teddy Bear Toss in support of Gleaning for the World’s Teddy Bear Brigade. More than 650 stuffed animals were collected for impoverished children around the world.

Shortly after Dinnison’s goal, the Flames picked up their first penalty of the night after sophomore defenseman Steven Bellew was sent to the box for slashing. Senior defenseman Dylan Coffey tied the game with a power play goal.

In the second period, Liberty could not hold onto the puck. After a turnover, senior forward Dusty Campbell seized the opportunity and sniped the loose puck past Liberty goalie Blair Bennett, giving the Mountaineers a 2-1 lead. The Flames were unable to score in the 2nd period.

With only one period remaining in the game, Liberty came back determined to win. McCombe skated swiftly down the ice and fed a cunning backhand pass Leblanc, who tied the game.

Less than three minutes remained in overtime when McCombe pushed another slick pass to freshman forward Robert Ward, who ripped the puck into the back of the net, electrifying the LaHaye Ice Center as fans celebrated the 3-2 overtime triumph.

The Flames will return to action on senior night when they take on the Richmond Generals Jr. A, Friday, Feb. 21 at the LaHaye Ice Center.

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