Flames let Bobcats off hook in final minutes of 4-1 setback
October 31, 2015 | Lynchburg, Va.
An extra couple seconds on the clock at the end of the second period allowed Liberty University's ACHA Division I men's hockey team the time it needed to net the equalizer in its rematch with Ohio, Saturday night at the LaHaye Ice Center.
With 2.5 seconds on scoreboard, the Flames pulled their goalie for the man advantage before Danny Logan won the faceoff in the left circle and fellow senior forward Bram Erickson poked the puck past Ohio goalie Aaron Alkema with 0.3 seconds to go, tying the contest at 1-1. That ended Alkema's bid for his fourth shutout, and injected new life into the arena.
"They executed a great play off the faceoff there," Flames Head Coach Kirk Handy said. "Logan showed great strength in putting that on net and Bram tipping that in, that's a good goal."
However, three goals by the ninth-ranked Bobcats (11-2-1) in a span of three minutes late in the third period took all of the air out of the Flames' sails as they slipped to 3-5-1 with a 4-1 loss, their fourth three-goal setback in as many home games this season.
"It was a tough one to take, but we also have to understand this is going to be a process, with 10 freshmen, to get going in the right direction," Handy said. "We've seen some great strides and some progression. It's a good opportunity for us to learn and to get better. That's the encouraging thing. We had to compete tonight and for 55 minutes, it was a great hockey game. We need to work like that every night and if we do, we're going to be just fine at the end of the year."
A night after being outshot 45-29 in Friday's 6-3 opening defeat, the Flames nearly matched the Bobcats in the shot department, won by Ohio, 35-32.
"We had our opportunities," Handy said. "Our pushback became more consistent, which was a positive sign. Logan, Erickson, and (senior forward Kyle) Garcia was a solid line for us again tonight. They established our game early and were physical all night. Overall, our special teams, our power play was good. We just couldn't bury it. We hit three or four posts that just didn't go for us. There were times where it could have been 4-1 us."
Liberty started the game on the defensive, putting junior goalie Matt Pinel to the test in his second straight start before surviving a five-on-three power play by the Bobcats unscathed.
"I thought Matt Pinel played a great game for us," Handy said. "He played his heart out for us."
Junior defenseman Chase Harris blocked a shot went on a fast-break counterattack, putting the puck on goal on the other end with his shot glove saved by Alkema. He stopped back-to-back quality chances by junior forward Grant Garvin on a putback of a transition shot by freshman forward Owen Harris and junior forward Robert Ward from point-blank range seconds later after he received as return feed from Garvin in the right corner.
Seconds after the Bobcats killed Liberty's lone power play of the first period, Ohio capitalized on a two-on-one rush through the right crease, when forward Derek Rahme deposited the puck through the five hole on a putback after having his first shot blocked by Pinel.
Liberty went on a five-on-three for 30 seconds early in the second period and let the two-man advantage expire without generating much offense before unleashing a furious assault on the Bobcats' cage for the minute and a half of five-on-four hockey. Freshman forward Michael Thomas, sophomore defenseman Ben Hughes, and freshman forward Zane Schartz uncorked shots on goal in rapid succession, with Garvin, Hughes, and Schartz getting quality putback chances in the crease.
"We've got to play hard in the defensive zone and bear down and put the puck in the net when we have the chances," Erickson said, noting the Flames need to build their attack from the back and capitalize on transition. "We just need to do a better job of picking up our guys and that goes for the forwards, too, just everybody. We'll get the puck out quicker and get on offense quicker … to get the result we want."
In the end, Ohio knocked the air out of the Flames with back-to-back-to-back goals by forward Gabe Lampron, defenseman Grant Hazel, and forward Patrick Spellacy, on a wrist shot into the upper netting.
"That's just a product of not putting the puck in the net when we had the chances and once we do that, we'll start putting games away," Erickson said.
Liberty returns to LaHaye for a College For A Weekend (CFAW) series against seventh-ranked Stony Brook next Friday and Saturday, when the puck drops at 7 p.m. both nights.