Club Sports News

Flames rally to down Delaware in ESCHL semifinals, 3-2

March 16, 2019  |  West Chester, Pa. 

Liberty junior forward Josh Hamilton assisted two of the Flames' three goals against Delaware. (Photo by Luke Bobbey) test test test test
Liberty junior forward Josh Hamilton assisted two of the Flames' three goals against Delaware. (Photo by Luke Bobbey)

Senior forward Zechariah Roberts scored the tying and game-winning goals as Liberty University's top-seeded ACHA Division I men's hockey team overcame a 2-0 deficit to defeat fifth-seeded Delaware, 3-2, in Saturday night's first ESCHL semifinal at the Ice Line Rinks in West Chester, Pa.

The two-time-defending ESCHL champion Flames (25-6-3) beat the Blue Hens (16-16) for the fifth time in as many tries this season.

"It's tough to beat a team five times in one year and I'm proud of the guys for coming back to win tonight," Liberty Head Coach Kirk Handy said. "It's a good opportunity for us to play in the championship game and we're looking forward to it."

Liberty will take on third-seeded Syracuse (17-10) — a 3-2 overtime winner over second-seeded Stony Brook (20-10) in Saturday's second semifinal — in Sunday's championship game, set for 1:30 p.m. Liberty went 3-0-1 against the Orange this season, winning the last three after dropping the Oct. 12 opener in overtime in Lynchburg.

Delaware — which upset fourth-seeded Rhode Island (20-14), 6-1, in Friday's first-round game — finished a power-play goal on the last of multiple shots from point-blank range to seize a 1-0 lead with 7:46 left in the first period, when the Blue Hens outshot the Flames, 19-13.

"In the first period, we looked flat and it was definitely tough to get our legs moving," Handy said. "In the second and third periods, we played a lot better."

Liberty senior goalie Josh Halpenny made a spectacular glove save of a one-on-one shot just over five minutes into the second period before the Blue Hens scored on a counterattack with 12:15 left in the stanza, doubling their lead to 2-0.

Less than a minute later, junior forward Quinn Ryan capitalized on the Flames' first power play to trim Delaware's advantage to 2-1 on a putback with 11:24 to play in the second period.

Just over 10 minutes later, Roberts netted the equalizer by tipping in a shot by junior defenseman Matt Cruickshank, who trapped a pass from junior forward Josh Hamilton in the slot before firing a shot toward the top right corner of the cage.

After junior defenseman Jacob Fricks put a shot on net from the top of the right circle, Roberts lifted Liberty to the 3-2 lead it would not relinquish by cashing in on the rebound of Hamilton's shot as Roberts skated across the slot with 17:56 remaining in regulation.

"Roberts was in the right place at the right time to score two big goals for us tonight," Handy said. "He's a key player for our team on and off the ice."

The Flames outshot Delaware by a 46-28 margin and Halpenny improved to 9-2 on the year by making 26 saves, shutting out the Blue Hens out for the final 32 minutes of play.

"Halpenny played a really great game today and was solid for us the whole night," Handy said.


By Ted Allen/Staff Writer

Men's D1 Hockey Links

No events scheduled for this team.

Mar 20
Men's D1 Hockey
at ACHA National Tournament

Mar 8
Men's D1 Hockey
at ESCHL Playoffs vs Stony Brook
W (4-0)

Mar 7
Men's D1 Hockey
at ESCHL Playoffs vs Delaware
W (4-2)

Feb 29
Men's D1 Hockey
vs. University of Alabama
W (9-1)

Feb 28
Men's D1 Hockey
vs. University of Alabama
W (9-1)

More Recaps