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    February 28, 2022 Lynchburg, Va. RSS |

    Liberty University’s No. 1-seeded College Hockey Federation (CHF) Division III men’s hockey team allowed fourth-seeded Coastal Carolina to net two power-play goals in the final two periods to pull away for a 3-1 victory in Sunday’s ACCHL Tournament Championship game at the LaHaye Ice Center.

    The Chanticleers (8-3-1), who upset No. 2 East Carolina in Saturday’s semifinal round, clinched defense of the title after topping the Flames 3-2 in overtime in last year’s final, played in Winston-Salem, N.C. That was Liberty’s first trip to the ACCHL DIII championship game.

    “We hadn’t given up a power-play goal all semester and then they got two today,” Liberty second-year Head Coach Josh Graham said. “We didn’t get bounces and … we didn’t really challenge them like we should have. We took a couple of bad penalties, including a five-minute major with 5:07 to go that basically killed any kind of opportunity to mount a comeback.”

    Liberty (13-7-1), the ACCHL regular-season champion which was No. 13 in last week’s final CHF national ranking, still qualified for the inaugural 32-team CHF National Championships set for March 18-23 in West Chester, Pa. It erased 1-0 deficits to win Friday’s tournament quarterfinal over No. 8-seeded Montgomery County (Pa.) Community College, 16-2, and Saturday’s semifinal over No. 6 College of Charleston, 7-1, extending its winning streak to nine games.

    Liberty second-year Head Coach Josh Graham offers encouragement from behind the bench.

    Freshman defenseman Josh Nole tied Friday’s opener with the first goal of his Flames career before netting the game-winner on Liberty’s second shorthanded score, off an assist from sophomore forward William Smiley, which lifted it to a 2-1 lead against Charleston. Junior wing Kenny Fogarty had netted the first shorthanded goal, after making a second steal in the defensive end, knotting the contest at 1-1, before adding three more goals in the third period, the first two off primary assists from graduate forward and alternate captain Jerrell Campbell and third set up by Nole.

    Andrew Pacarella scored off assists from senior defenseman Jordan Chamberlain and senior forward William Fortugno before Fogarty netted his fourth goal and junior center Christian Kline, who assisted Fogarty’s first goal of the period, capped the scoring off feeds from Kettelle and junior forward and head captain Jaime Ross. The Flames outshot the Cougars by a 51-26 count and graduate goalie Clayton Pierce made 25 saves.

    Senior forward William Smiley controls the puck against Montgomery County.

    Fogarty also had a third-period hat trick against Montgomery College while Nole, freshman center Randy Plaisance, and senior defenseman Michael Eisaman added two goals and Smiley, freshman center Ethan Dunn, Kettelle, Campbell, freshman forward Luke Bessire, Ross, and Chamberlain added single scores as the Flames held a commanding 70-10 shot advantage.


    Against Coastal, Liberty’s longtime rival which it played seven times last season and split a road series with in November, Brendan Engtow got the Chanticleers on the board with a putback in the left crease assisted by Justin Fowlkes and Brady Barnes, who netted their last two goals with the man advantage. In between those scores, Campbell cut the deficit to 2-1 on a putback of a shot by Johnny Kettelle with 3:41 to play in the second period.

    Liberty outshot Coastal, 40-36, and Pierce made 33 saves in defeat.

    “We outshot them, but we just didn’t have enough dangerous chances,” Graham said. “Every (meeting has) been close. Unfortunately, we keep losing to them when it counts, so we need to reverse that trend.”

    Sophomore goalie Kyle Wesbury was named ACCHL Goalie of the Year and Graham repeated honors as ACCHL Coach of the Year.

    By Ted Allen/Staff Writer; Videos by Patrick Strawn/Club Sports Director of Video & Media