Lady Flames show resilience in ACHA DI tournament opener
March 9, 2016 | Kalamazoo, Mich.
Twice in Wednesday night's ACHA Division I National Championship tournament opener at Wings Arena in Kalamazoo, Mich., eighth-seeded Michigan cut Liberty University's lead to one goal — 2-1 midway through the second period and 3-2 early in the third.
But both times, the top-seeded defending national champion Lady Flames responded quickly to keep the Wolverines (10-10-4) at bay. Liberty (21-3-1) eventually pulled away for a 5-2 triumph, avoiding an upset in the first round of pool play.
Freshman forward Lauren McDonald scored tthe Lady Flames' first goal six minutes after the opening faceoff and assisted sophomore forward Chelsey Greenwood on the second with three minutes to go in the first period before junior forward Courtney Gilmour, senior forward and head captain Carrie Jickling and freshman forward Lauren Pillisch put the game out of reach with three more scores in the final 25 minutes of action.
Michigan forward Jennifer Cusmano ended Lady Flames freshman goalie Kelly Hutton's shutout bid by beating her with a shot through the five hole with 9:51 to play in the second period. But after Greenwood''s shot through the legs of Wolverines goalie Julie Chenoweth was overruled by an offsides call upon video review at the 8:00 mark, Gilmour capped a three-on-two break for a 3-1 Liberty lead with 5:44 left.
Then, after Michigan's Caroline Hurd scored with 15:27 remaining in regulation, Jickling picked up a loose puck in the left circle and finished with a well-placed wrist shot 37 seconds later. Less than five minutes later, Pillisch started Liberty's transition game with a pass to the center of the ice before pouncing on the putback of a shot on goal by Jickling and backhanding the puck into the open net for the final score.
The Lady Flames will continue pool play with games against sixth-seeded Lindenwood-Belleville on Thursday and No. 3 Grand Valley State on Friday, with the puck dropping at 7:45 p.m. both nights.
National Championship tournament games are being webcast live by the ACHA.