Oct 21, 2008
Flames come from behind to defeat Renegades, 5-4
by William Armstrong
On two consecutive Fridays, the Liberty Flames men’s hockey team has come from behind on 4-1 deficits to win 5-4. Meanwhile, the women’s hockey team won all three of its road games to remain undefeated.
This time, in front of 2,800 fans, the Flames rallied to beat the Richmond Renegades, of the Southern Professional Hockey League, in a thriller that fans and players alike will remember.
“They said 2,800 fans were there, but it felt like we had 5,000 fans,” freshman Will Gable said. “It’s overwhelming and surreal at times, because I’ve never been apart of something this big.”
The game was a mid-season exhibition for the Flames, but it was the first preseason game for the Renegades, to see who would make the team.
Standing room only resulted from the bleachers getting filled before the game started. It was a much anticipated game, as noted on the SPHL Web site, when tickets were almost sold out as early as Oct. 10.
As expected, the game started out fast paced with both teams collecting early scoring chances and keeping the crowd on the edge of its seats.
The Renegades opened up the games scoring 7:30 into the game, when Quinn Amiel sent a backhander past Liberty goaltender Colin Way directly off a faceoff.
Justin Joy continued early scoring for the Renegades, knocking in a one-timer from between the circles.
Minutes later, John Geverd motored down the right side and sent in a scorching wrist shot over the glove of Way, extending the Renegade lead to 3-0.
Junior Dave Semenyna ended the shutout bid of Josselin St. Pierre, firing a one-timer between St. Pierre’s legs from the blueline.
Early in the second, the Flames starters were the recipients of early chances, and the momentum started to sway.
Knocking down a Renegade clearing attempt, freshman Rob Vanwynsberghe sent a backhander on goal, and junior captain Zac Bauman was there to put in the rebound.
When Liberty put in its second goal, the whole team looked fired up and knew it could get back into the game.
Senior Josh Ahier created a give-and-go with freshman Gamble, who put a shot on net, and senior John Langabeer stashed the rebound to end the second period scoring with Liberty only trailing by one.
After the Flames second goal, St. Pierre was lifted from the net and replaced by Jeff Hill while Way had picked up his game and was shutting down all Renegade scoring attempts.
Renegades and Flames fans started going toe-to-toe with, “Lets go LU” and “Lets go Renegades” chants.
The third period opened up identically to the second, with Liberty mustering the first chances and each teams starting to get more physical.
Vanwynsberghe collected the puck in the Renegade zone, sent it to the goal line to Chung, who wrapped around the net and fed Langabeer in front for Langabeer’s game-tying and second goal on the night, bringing the Flames faithful to its feet.
With 3:34 remaining, Chung caught up to a loose puck along the outside of the left circle, and fired a slapper past Jeff Hill for the game winner.
“After the puck had gone in, we were jumping and going crazy on the ice,” Chung said after scoring the game-winning goal. “It got so loud after I scored the goal.”
The goal sent the LaHaye Ice Center into a deafening frenzy, which made last week’s comeback seem tame.
“Last week was insane, but it didn’t compare to this week,” Gamble said.
The fifth-ranked Liberty Flames go to battle against newcomer Stony Brook 7:30 p.m. on Friday and 8:00 p.m. on Saturday.
The Lady Flames continued their stellar play this season as they defeated the Grand Valley State Lakers 2-0 and the University of Michigan 4-2 and 3-0.
Liberty opened its game with the Lakers to a scoreless first period. Sophomore goalie Leanne Niemi kept the Flames in the game throughout the contest and earned her first shutout of the season.
Sophomore Kristin Frescura broke the scoreless tie, 25 seconds into the second period, firing above the hash marks to put Liberty in the lead.
With 5:30 left in the third, freshman Katelyn Slanders put in a rebound to conclude the games scoring.
Next, the Flames traveled to take on the Wolverines the following nights.
Leanne Niemi’s second start resulted in a 4-2 win, lead by Brooke Harris’ two goals.
Eight minutes into the game, Harris notched her first when she fired from the top of the right circle past the Wolverine goaltender.
On the last game of the weekend, junior Patti Smith started for Liberty, who scored once in each period.
Frescura scored on a one-timer, Slander beat Robbins on a wrist shot from the slot, and Meghan Nunn put an empty net goal away to seal the victory.
“It felt good to win all the games, because we needed these wins to start off the year. We all played hard and stepped it up,” Sara Niemi said.
The team plays its next game at home against Penn State on Friday at 10:15 p.m. and Saturday at 3:15 p.m.
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