DII men sweep RPI, await Homecoming Weekend rematch with reigning national champion Mary
Liberty University’s ACHA Division II men’s hockey team swept its series with Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) on Friday night and Saturday afternoon at the LaHaye Ice Center, winning the opener, 6-0, and the rematch, 9-2, to improve to 8-1 on the season.
The Flames were coming off a 2-1 showing at a University of Minnesota showcase the previous weekend, shutting out the host Golden Gophers, 3-0, and edging Marian (Ind.) University, 3-2, before suffering their only setback of the season against two-time defending ACHA DII national champion University of Mary (N.D.), 4-0.
Liberty will host the Marauders, who improved to 7-0 with a home sweep of Minnesota over the weekend, during Homecoming Weekend this Friday and Saturday at 4:30 p.m. at the LIC.
In this past Friday’s opener against RPI, the Flames scored three goals in the first period, added two in the second, and one in the third while senior goalie Stephen Sanders (3-0) made 25 saves and lowered his goals-against average to 1.33 by recording his first shutout. Sophomore forward Eric Abatte scored the first goal off assists from junior center Roman Lamoureux and freshman defenseman Connor Diem at the 18:42 mark of the first. Freshman center Josh Martin finished feeds from junior wing Trevor Granzow and freshman forward Mark Padgett with 11:43 to play in the period before sophomore forward Josh Harrell put away a pass from freshman forward Thomas Kayner on a power play with 3:25 to go.
Then in the second, Padgett scored twice, first on a power-play off assists from junior forward Cooper Neal and sophomore defenseman Rece Poulin, stretching the Flames’ advantage to 4-0 at the 12:37 mark. He then received passes from graduate defenseman Alex Norwinski and sophomore forward David Hauke and struck again with 2:17 left. Finally, in the third, with Liberty back on the power play, Abbate capped the scoring with his second goal, converting assists from Kayner and Norwinski with 3:32 remaining in regulation.
In Saturday’s rematch, the Flames netted two goals in the first period, three in the second, and four in the third to pull away from the Engineers, who responded with single goals in the second and third.
Sophomore forward Jared Matley started the first- and second-period scoring — unassisted 55 seconds after the opening faceoff and at the 15:55 mark of the second stanza off assists from freshman defenseman Logan Johnson and Poulin — and Harrell hauled in four goals, including two on the power play, to double his season total and move into the Flames’ scoring lead with 10 points.
Neal also scored off a feed from Kayner with 16:32 left in the first, and Norwinski started the third-period scoring with his first goal of the year, unassisted, before Hauke netted his first of the season off an assist from Malin.
By Ted Allen/Staff Writer; Videos by Patrick Strawn/Club Sports Director of Video & Media