Nov 18, 2008

Flames earn fourth split of year with 4-3 victory over Delaware

by William Armstrong

With almost three months of hockey completed, and the end of the semester fast approaching, players can start to wear out. the Flames had to battle through visible foes, and the invisible fatigue that weighed them down.

“Watching them play out there, you can definitely tell that they were tired,” said sophomore Johnny Chung, who was out of action due to sickness. “Playing maybe only 16 hours after the first game is hard to do.”

The team skated to a draw in the series with the University of Delaware Fightin’ Blue Hens, losing 5-3 the first night and winning 4-3 on the final night.

From the drop of the first puck on Friday, physical play proved to be a big part of the game, but Liberty fell short 5-3. Junior Kyle Dodgson served up a throttling hit 30 seconds into the game, which was followed up by big hits from junior Zac Bauman and freshman Joe Smith.

Delaware found the scoreboard first on its first of five unanswered goals. Mike Gardner found open ice on a power play, streaked through center ice, and sent a low shot past Liberty goaltender Colin Way.

After two quick Delaware scores, freshman Rob Vanwynsberghe nearly found the twine on a one-timer from Dodgson, which ended the first period action with Delaware still in control 3-0.

Way made a save on an odd-man breakaway rush, but Thomas Keough was out in front for the rebound, which turned out to be the eventual game winner.

Two minutes later, junior John Langabeer gave Liberty some life, banging in a loose puck on the power play.

Dodgson missed a chance of his own on a mini-breakaway and was stopped on the backhand. However, that did not stop him from adding another giant hit behind the net later in the game.

The hits kept coming for the Flames. When Blue Hen Mike McBride was trying to exit his own zone, he was met with a lethal Langabeer hit that drew a loud cheer from the LaHaye faithful. Later, Bauman destroyed a Delaware offenseman trying to find his way through center.

Liberty mustered up many chances but could not find the back of the net, until Dodgson put home a loose puck on the power play with 13 seconds left.

Historically, when losing the first game of a home series Liberty has come back and won the second game with better play, which was the case in the team’s thrilling 5-4 victory.

“Liberty’s history is when they lose Friday, they come back and really beat opponents the second night, which we have to be prepared for,” Delaware Head Coach Mike DeAngelis said.

On a Flames defensive miscue, David Orga seized the puck and scored an easy goal to put Delaware in the lead 1-0. Freshman Luke Aitken responded minutes after, sending a one-timer past Pflumm to tie the score at 1-1.

Throughout the course of the period the Flames played sloppy but were getting the better of the scoring chances.

“When we do get out to slow starts, we focus on what we need to do better, and for a good part of the time have been able to come back,” senior Kevin Hendrix said.

On a Liberty power play early in the second period, freshman Will Gamble ended a Delaware shorthanded rush with a crunching check along the boards.

The game remained tied until Delaware put home a power play goal as Brandon Weiner crashed to the net and scored on a one-timer in between the circles.

Up to the task, Liberty tied the game minutes later when the team cashed in on a tic-tac-toe play, Hendrix to Vanwynsberghe to Dodgson, to tie the game 2-2.

Shortly after, McBride scored his first of the season on a bad-angle shot that trickled past Way ending the second-period scoring with Delaware holding a 3-2 lead.

Liberty went on the offensive starting the third but failed to score on early chances. Hendrix regained momentum as he made his way into the offensive zone, beat two players and sent a wrister below Pflumm’s blocker pad to tie the score at 3-3.

“It fired us up to tie the game,” Hendrix said. “It felt good and was really exciting and gets your confidence going.”

After Way made enormous saves to keep the game tied, Langabeer put home the game-winning goal on a rebound with under five minutes to play.

“We came out with a lot more intensity, and the team’s heart really showed,” Way said. “For us to have these kinds of games, it’s going to pay off later in the year.”

The Flames will go into action next against Virginia Tech on Dec. 5, which will be the first televised game of the season.


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