DII men sweep Rowan, prep for regional powers FGCU, Miami, Lindenwood in Ohio
Liberty University’s ACHA Division II men’s hockey team netted three unanswered goals in the third period to pull away for a 5-2 victory in Friday night’s series opener against Rowan University at the LaHaye Ice Center. Then on Saturday afternoon, the Flames (17-4-1, ranked No. 2 in the Southeast Region) completed the sweep of the former MACH rival Profs (14-6-1, ranked No. 9) by breaking open another 2-2 tie with two goals in the final five minutes of a 4-2 triumph.
In the opener, Liberty got goals from five different scorers, sparked by graduate defenseman Alex Norwinski’s shot set up by sophomore wing David Hauke and freshman defenseman Connor Diem at the 13:02 mark. Rowan tied it up with 3:48 left in the first period before seizing a 2-1 lead at the 13:48 mark of the second, but the Flames would score the next four goals — the first by junior forward Cooper Neal just 43 seconds later — to take command.
A trio of sophomore forwards — Jared Matley, Josh Harrell, the Flames’ head captain, and Eric Abbate broke the game open in the third, with Harrell’s on the power play and Abbate’s an empty-netter in the final 1:16. Hauke, Poulin, and Martin each distributed two assists. Liberty outshot Rowan by a 51-35 margin and sophomore goalie Lane Skon held the Profs to two goals in both games, making 33 saves in the opener.
In the rematch, sophomore center Roman Lamoureux started the scoring with a shorthanded goal off assists from Harrell and freshman defenseman Logan with 50 seconds remaining in the first period. The Profs tied the contest at 1-1 with a power-play goal midway through the second and again took a 2-1 lead, with 2:55 to go in the period. But Matley struck back with the equalizer with 1:02 to go before the second intermission, finishing feeds from Hauke and Poulin, before Lamoureux netted the game-winner on an unassisted power-play goal at the 4:36 mark of the third. Junior wing Trevor Granzow iced the victory with an empty netter assisted by Abbate with 35 seconds to go, but he and a Rowan player were subsequently disqualified with major penalties for fighting.
The Flames will be back in action this weekend when they travel to Oxford, Ohio, to play in the Miami (Ohio) University Showcase. They will challenge Florida Gulf Coast University, the No. 1-ranked team in the Southeast Region, on Friday at 9:45 p.m., before facing the No. 3-ranked host RedHawks on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. and Lindenwood (Mo.) University, the No. 1 team in the Central Region, on Sunday at 12:30 p.m.
By Ted Allen/Staff Writer