DII Flames to face top-seeded Lindenwood for shot to win its pool after 1-1 start at nationals
Liberty University’s ACHA Division II men’s hockey team, seeded second in its four-team pool, split its first two games in the DII National Championships, falling to New Hampshire, 2-1 on Monday, before defeating Montana State, 7-2 on Tuesday, at the Centene Community Ice Center’s Plager Arena, setting up Wednesday’s 9:15 p.m. (EST) showdown with top-seeded Lindenwood University.
If the Lions defeat the Rams on Tuesday at 6:45 p.m. (EST), the final showdown between Lindenwood and Liberty would determine which of the two teams advances to Thursday’s semifinals.
On Monday, the Flames (26-7) were called for six penalties in the upset loss to No. 3-seeded New Hampshire (12-8-1) despite outshooting the Rams, 33-31.
Liberty netted the game’s first goal shorthanded, an unassisted score by senior defenseman Charlie Wilkie with 1:09 left in the second period. But it then gave up two unanswered goals in the final 20 minutes plus, including the equalizer by forward Dillon Arno on a Rams power play with 3 seconds left in the period.
With 11:09 remaining in regulation, UNH forward Ethan Burgess scored the game-winner at even strength. The Flames finished 0-for-1 on the power play and senior goalie Dakota Cyhaniuk made 29 saves.
Then on Tuesday, the Flames capitalized on three power-play goals to help seize a 5-0 lead on Montana State (20-12-1) by the end of the second period.
The Fighting Bobcats were seeded fourth in the pool, but were coming off a 4-4 tie against the top-seeded Lions despite being outshot, 51-25.
Freshman forward Luke Tucker started the scoring off an assist from senior forward Justin Barstead with 8:40 left in the first period before senior forward Tim Doe scored unassisted with 57 seconds remaining to double Liberty’s lead to 2-0. Freshman defenseman Rece Poulin then finished assists from freshman forward Josh Harrell and senior forward Payton Nash on the power play to pad the lead to 3-0 with 11 seconds left in the first.
The Flames added two more power-play goals in the second, with Doe putting away passes from Harrell and Poulin at the 11:41 mark and David Hauke finishing feeds from fellow sophomore defenseman Cameron Tobey and sophomore forward Trevor Granzow with 8:03 left.
Then in the third, freshman forward Cooper Neal scored unassisted to make it a 6-0 contest before Phelps scored back-to-back goals for Montana State to trim the deficit to four. Hauke capped the scoring off an assist from Tucker with 4:18 to play.
Liberty outshot MSU, 27-25, and Cyhaniuk made 23 saves.
Video by Patrick Strawn/Club Sports Director of Video & Media
Senior defenseman Charlie Wilkie netted the Flames’ only goal in Monday’s 2-1 loss to New Hampshire.