Feb 6, 2007

No. 8 Flames hockey sweeps Wildcats in LIC

by Will Luper, Sports Reporter
After deftly taking care of Virginia Tech last week, the Liberty Flames hockey team looked to continue its winning ways when it faced off against the University of Kentucky this weekend. 
Liberty accomplished that with ease, coming off the weekend with two more wins under its belt.
Going into Friday night, Flames Head Coach Kirk Handy was looking for disciplined hockey and taking care of business on the Flames’ end of the ice.

“We want to commit to our own zone, having a defensive mind first,” he said.

For the first several minutes, it was all Liberty as the Flames dominated in the offensive zone.
Freshman Zac Bauman nearly scored off a face-off just 30 seconds into the game. 
However, Wildcats starting goalie Drew Matichak was there to close the door.

Matichak looked impenetrable until freshman Kyle Dodgson broke through on the power play, roughly eight minutes into the game.

Kentucky would not quit, though. Just 36 seconds later, sophomore Chris Protenic gathered a loose puck in front of junior goaltender Dalton Stoltz and shoved it home. 

It was then that the newly combined line of Bauman, Dodgson and sophomore John Langabeer went to work.

Coming in off the left face-off circle, Bauman snapped a shot right through Matichak’s legs to make the score 2-1 in Liberty’s favor going into the first intermission.

After taking 23 shots in the first period alone, the Flames came out in the second just as trigger-happy.

Bauman, who was in front of the net, redirected a shot by junior Rob Niemi to make the score 3-1.
The rest of the second period was quiet on the goal front until Langabeer redirected a shot from the blue line to make it 4-1 with .07  seconds left on the clock.

In the third period, new-to-the-team freshman Ryan Hoefler got his first goal for the Flames on a tap-in.

Fellow freshman Josh Ahier deked Kentucky’s goalie out of position and passed it into the crease, where Hoefler was waiting.

The Bauman, Langabeer and Dodgson line ended with a combined total of eight points as the Flames won by a score of 5-1.

After Friday night’s game, Handy said that he was “looking for that extra 20 percent that it takes to win a national championship.”

Kentucky Head Coach Rob Docherty said that he just wanted to see his team “play a full 60 minutes of hockey.”

The first period of Saturday’s game looked to be a much more even affair, as the Wildcats came out of the gates with an offensive-minded strategy. 

Junior Mike Binnie started in goal for the Flames and made a couple of beautiful early saves.

Dykstra, newly moved to defense to be paired up with Semenyna, showed why he had been playing forward as he caught a pass and took off towards the Wildcats net, faking Matichak out of position and putting a backhanded shot into the net, giving the Flames an early 1-0 lead.

Four minutes into the second period, a miracle goal by Kentucky tied it up and gave the Wildcats hope.

That hope was destroyed shortly afterwards though, as Semenyna took a shot from the blue line that beat Matichak over his right shoulder.

Kentucky got within one goal when Binnie got beat stick-side with roughly eight minutes left in the second period, and a frustrated Semenyna received a penalty directly after the goal. 

That proved not to matter, however, as Langabeer scored shorthanded with a backhand shot to make it 4-2.

Langabeer scored once again in the second period off a stunning solo effort as he split Kentucky’s defense and popped it past a surprised Matichak with only 20 seconds left in the period.
The third period was entertaining on all sides as tempers began to boil over.

Flames captain Jon Ziegler scored on a breakaway, Semenyna scored his second of the game and Langabeer completed a hat-trick as Liberty won the game 8-3.
After the game, Handy gave credit to number 28.

“Langabeer is a solid hockey player night-in and night-out,” he said.

In regards to his new line mates, Bauman said that they were “working well in the corners, and had great communication.”

Friday night had a moment of silence for long-time Flames Hockey supporter Rick Lowman, who passed away recently.

His family was in attendance and got a chance to speak with the team after the game.
The Flames (24-6) will travel to Annapolis, Maryland, to participate in the Navy Tournament on February 10-11.

Contact Will Luper at wluper@liberty.edu.

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