Sep 30, 2008

Vanwynesberghe shines as Flames blast Kennesaw State

by William Armstrong

Going into a pair of weekend games against the Kennesaw State Owls, Liberty Flames men’s hockey coach Kirk Handy wanted the team to get more players involved with the scoring.

The Flames could not have echoed that sentiment anymore than having 13 different players score and 17 different players collect points in its 12-2 and 13-4 wins over the Owls on Friday and Saturday night.

“It shows the balance we have this year,” Handy said. “It’s important going into Stony Brook to know you can count on other guys, and they can learn and contribute to the team.”

Power plays held a paramount role in the success Liberty had over the weekend, as the team scored six goals on Friday night and seven goals while up a man on Saturday.

Kennesaw State metaphorically, “shot themselves in the foot,” after the team compiled close to 30 penalties over the weekend games.

The first night also saw the emergence of freshman Rob Vanwynsberghe, the Flames power play and what the young players of Liberty are capable of.

Liberty jumped out to an early lead in the first period when sophomore Adam Docksteader opened the contest’s scoring and put home a rebound almost nine minutes in.

Junior Dave Semenyna and sophomore Jonathan Chung followed by trading power play goals minutes apart, as Liberty’s lead increased to 3-0.

The Owls responded just before the end of the period, as Justin Blais sent shot past starting goalie Colin Way just before the period came to a close.

Semenyna added his second power play goal of the night to kick off the second period, blasting a shot past goalie Ben Powers top shelf, putting the Flames ahead 4-1.

Senior captain Zach Bauman made it 5-1 after he stashed home a rebound while lying on the ice, scoring the Flames second goal in two minutes.

Soon after, freshman Josh Reynolds fed fellow freshman Joe Smith on a mini, shorthanded breakaway, and Smith beat Owl goaltender Ben Powers to the backhand for his first career goal.

Senior John Langabeer also found the back of the net on the power play after Vanwynsberghe’s cross-ice pass to the winger, which he sent home for his first goal of the season.

After a Vanwynesberghe goal, Kennesaw State’s Jerry Holden secured a rebound and buried his shot to score the Owls final tally of the game.

Then, Vanwynesberghe flashed his brilliance one more time, scoring the second of his two goals towards the end of the period to extend the Liberty advantage to 9-2.

In the final period freshman Colton Crossley notched his first marker as a Flame, Hendrix sent a power play wrist shot to the top corner, and Vanwynsberghe notched his first career hat-trick as he beat Powers on a quick forehand wrist shot to the top shelf of the net. Liberty dominated in every aspect of the game as the final score showed 12-2 at the end of the third period.

As the Flames did in the first game, the team incorporated everyone when it was even strength and on the power play which created momentum that would never be stopped.

The game featured Vanwynsberghe’s second collegiate hat trick and first four-goal game, which puts him among the best in the ACHA D-I level, and saw freshman Luke Aitken record his first two goals as a Flame.

It was Kennesaw who got out to the early lead on Saturday night, as captain Dylan Morrison fired a wrister to the top right corner for the 1-0 lead.

Once Liberty got on the power play though, the Flames took control of the game.

The momentum shifted as Bauman collected a rebound, waited out the goaltender Powers and roofed his shot for a power play goal and his second of the season. On the power play again, Chung made a steal at the blue line, sent it in to Vanwynsberghe, and Vanwynsberghe set Hendrix up backdoor for the beautiful score, giving the Flames a 2-1 advantage.

Similar to the first period, the Owls opened the second period scoring when Kyle Brodie made his way down the left wing and sent a scorching wrist shot over Colin Way’s glove hand to knot the game at two apiece.

Sophomore Kyle Dodgson broke the tie when he took matters into his own hands, scoring one goal (his first of the season) and assisting on another to Langabeer in response to Brodie’s goal.

As he did in Friday’s game, Vanwynesberghe showcased his capabilities in the second period, notching three of his four goals to put the Flames ahead for good. On the power play, Vanwynsberghe took a pass from Morrison, made his way in alone on the keeper, and fired a wrist shot to the top shelf of the net. Vanwynesberghe notched his second goal of the game on a one timer from Bauman later in the period. Freshman Casey Horvath followed the Vanwynsberghe marker with his first career goal on an individual rush down the left side.

Bauman once again found a streaking Vanwynsberghe, and Vanwynsberghe deflected the pass in the crease to record his second straight hat trick.

But the fabulous freshman was not finished, as Bauman found him one more time on a one-timer in the third period. Smith, Mackenzie Bauman, and Aitken tacked on the remaining goals for the Flames. Bauman’s goal was his first as a Flame.

“It took us awhile to see the younger guys produce, but they found a rhythm and chipped in during the third period,” Handy said. “It is just really nice to see the guys get their first goals.”

In three games played this season, Vanwynsberghe has scored two goals, three goals, and four goals, respectively, and currently leads all ACHA’s Men’s Division-I players with 9 goals and has compiled 14 points total.

“He’s putting the puck on net, taking shots, and playing smart all around hockey,” Handy said of Vanwynsberghe.

The Flames will head to Stony Brook next weekend for a two game series, but will return home for a matchup with Oakland University the following weekend. The puck will drop at 7:30 p.m.

 


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