Jan 26, 2010

Hockey sweeps Stony Brook, remains perfect in 2010

by Ryan Walter

2010 continues to be a great year for the Liberty Flames hockey team. The club managed to win two hard fought games against the Stony Brook University Sea Wolves over the weekend, extending its winning streak to six games in the New Year.
The Flames came out soaring, looking to build on their recent success. It looked like they would do just that after scoring three first period goals to put the packed house of rowdy New York fans to sleep.

“We came out flying,” sophomore Luke Aitken said. “Bus legs were nowhere to be found. We were prepared.”
Stephen Moller led the way in the first period, slipping the puck past the far side of the goalie.

“I just put my head down, shot the puck and put it in,” Moller said. “It opened the flood gates.”

Another two goals by junior Eric Reynolds and Mack Bauman kept the Sea Wolves on their heels.

“I thought we played really well in the first [period],” head coach Kirk Handy said. “The first period was the best all game.”

Liberty built on its strong start in the second period with rough and tough play. Stony Brook’s players were doing their best to get under the Liberty squad’s skin but the Flames were able to battle through it, notching two more goals to give them a commanding 5–2 lead.

The third period proved to be a tougher challenge for Liberty.
“We dominated to start,” forward Brent Boschman said. “[But we] let them back in [the game] with undisciplined play and poor defensive efforts.”

The Flames saw their comfortable 5-2 advantage disappear as the Sea Wolves added two goals to make it a one-goal game. However, thanks to solid goal tending by Brad Whittingstall and an empty net tally by Adam Docksteader, the Flames were able to escape the Saturday night game with a 6–4 victory.

“We just weren’t as sharp,” Aitken said. “But we battled a little adversity, and came out with a win.”

However, the Flames did not have much time to regroup after the tough contest. They were on the ice the next morning at 11:30 a.m., ready to play the second game of the weekend series.
“You try to do the things the same way no matter what the time,” Mack Bauman said. “You’re tired but you get through the first few shifts and find a way to be ready.”

It was clear that both teams came out ready to fight. The Sea Wolves were looking to get a little revenge for their close loss the night before, but the Flames would not allow it.

“In the second game we came out and took it to them,” Whittingstall said. “I thought we had some great moments.”
Jonathan Chung started the scoring following up a nifty pass from Kyle Dodgson with a backhand tap in. But that would be it for the Flames in the first period despite the 23 shots they threw at the Sea Wolves goaltender.

However, it was not the offensive bombardment that the coaches were happy about.

“I thought we cut [out] the unnecessary penalties that were taken Saturday,” Coach Handy said. “It made a big difference.”

The Flames would not settle merely for disciplined play. Liberty managed to score four goals in the second period, seemingly putting Stony Brook out of the game.

“It was a similar score the night before going into the third [period],” forward Eric Reynolds said. “Then we just played our game. We played LU hockey.”

Both Chung and Dave Semenyna notched a goal to make Liberty’s 7-1 lead virtually insurmountable. Except for some rough stuff that saw 5-foot-8 Luke Aitken square off with the Sea Wolves 6-foot captain, Liberty finished the game with a 7-1 win.

“We kept the pressure on for a full 60 minutes” Semenyna said.
“We didn’t give any chance for a comeback like Friday night.”
Handy was also impressed with the way Liberty bounced back in the second game.

“We were able to get some timely goals and Brad Whittingstall made some big saves,” Handy said. “It’s two wins and we are moving closer to where we want to be.”

Next weekend the Flames look to move even closer to a National Championship as they take on the Oklahoma Sooners for the first time this year. The Sooners come into the weekend series ranked No. 7 while the Flames enter the contest at No. 5.

“They’re always a good team and we always play them tight,” Semenyna said. “We are looking forward to the battle.”

The puck will drop inside the LaHaye Ice Center for the Friday night contest at 7 p.m.

Contact Ryan Walter
at rmwalter@liberty.edu.


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