DII Flames sweep Blue Hens, prep for weekend trip to Minnesota Showcase
Liberty University’s ACHA Division II men’s hockey team swept its series against Delaware on Friday night and Saturday afternoon at the LaHaye Ice Center, winning the opener 2-1 and the rematch 5-1 to improve to 4-0.
Junior wing Trevor Granzow won his battle for the puck out of the left corner and flipped a pass back to freshman forward Mark Padgett for a shot from the edge of the left circle inside the left post for a 1-0 lead with 13:57 left in the first period. Then, with 17:04 to play in the second, sophomore defenseman and alternate captain Rece Poulin blasted a power play putback from deep in the left circle into the top right corner of the cage, doubling the advantage to 2-0.
The Blue Hens (0-4) finally got on the scoreboard with 2:07 to go in the third, with Ryan Lowe capitalizing on a Delaware power-play opportunity off an assist from Adrian Rodriguez, spoiling the shutout bid by senior goalie Stephen Sanders, who made a couple clutch saves in the closing seconds.
Less than three minutes into Saturday’s rematch, Rodriguez assisted Graham Kline’s finish past Flames sophomore goalie Lane Skon that gave the Blue Hens an early 1-0 lead. However, the Flames netted the equalizer shorthanded as freshman center Joshua Martin stole the puck near his own blue line and sent a beautiful backhanded outlet pass to junior forward Cooper Neal, who accelerated through the open ice to pick it up and sneak it past Delaware goalie Joe Hooper.
Then, with 12:31 to play in the second period, Martin started and finished a counterattack, putting away a spectacular give-and-go feed from sophomore forward Eric Abbate deep in the left crease for the game-winner. Just over a minute later, sophomore forward and alternate captain Josh Harrell crashed the cage to slip a loose puck past Hooper amidst a scrum around the net, padding Liberty’s lead to 3-1 at the 11:28 mark. In the closing seconds of a Flames power play with 1:59 remaining in the second, Poulin launched a net-seeking missile of a slap shot from high in the left circle off an assist from graduate defenseman Alex Norwinski. Finally, with the Flames back on a power play in the final minute of action, Rodriguez netted an own goal for the final score.
Liberty will travel to the University of Minnesota this weekend for a three-game showcase, facing the host Golden Gophers in Friday’s 9 p.m. EST opener before challenging Marian (Ind.) University on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. EST and wrapping up the road trip with a game against two-time defending ACHA DII national champion University of Mary (N.D.) on Sunday at 1 p.m. EST.
Videos by Patrick Strawn/Club Sports Director of Video & Media