DII Flames win two of three games at Louisville Showcase
October 9, 2018 | Louisville, Ky.
Liberty University's ACHA Division II men's hockey team won two of its three games played over the weekend at the Louisville Showcase, highlighted by Saturday's 5-0 victory over Penn State, one of the ACHA's top-ranked teams in the country last season.
"That was a very big game and our guys just came mentally ready to play," Flames Head Coach Ben Hughes said. "It was our third time playing Penn State this season and we definitely made some adjustments and sustained more offensive pressure on their end than we had the previous two games."
Senior right wing Matthew Perri sparked Liberty's attack with an even-strength goal six minutes after the opening faceoff before senior forward Eric Masters scored the first of the Flames' two power-play goals with 1:52 left in first. Sophomore center Michael Niederer stretched the lead to 3-0 with 8:59 to go in the second period before two defensemen — junior Brandon Drumheller and freshman Charlie Wilkie — scored early and late in the third, with Wilkie's coming on the power play.
Sophomore Adam Partridge posted his first shutout for the Flames.
In their Showcase opener played late Friday night, the Flames defeated Indiana, 5-4 in overtime on junior forward Drew Crilly's game-winner after Masters had netted the equalizer with 12:52 to go in the third.
Freshman forward Tim Doe sandwiched two goals around one by freshman forward Devin Melice to give Liberty an early 3-1 advantage before the Knights rallied for three straight scores to seize a 4-3 lead with 15:04 remaining in regulation.
In Sunday's finale against Louisville, the host Cardinal scored first five minutes after the opening faceoff before Crilly tied it up by unleashing a backhander at the 9:45 mark.
Liberty failed to capitalize on three power-play opportunities early in the second period before Louisville's Yannis Soukas streaked out of the penalty box and converted a breakaway score that put the Cardinal up, 2-1. Flames freshman forward Aaron Partridge, the younger brother of Liberty's starting goalie, answered two and a half minutes later off sophomore forward Blake Flanders' second assist, knotting the score at 2-2.
But Louisville got the last laugh when Tyler Bradford finished feeds from Soukas and Adam Griffith with 8:37 to go. Cardinal goalie Spencer Reu made 45 saves while Adam Partridge stopped 37 shots for the Flames in defeat.
"It's disappointing," Hughes said. "Louisville was just more ready to play than we were. We've got to use it as a learning experience to realize that we can't take a game off and we can't wait for the last minute to try to come back."
The Flames will be off until Sunday when they return to the LaHaye Ice Center to host Virginia Tech at 2:30 p.m. in the first game of the best-of-three Battle of the Blue Ridge.