DIII Flames stretch winning streak to 7 by sweeping visiting Yellow Jackets
Liberty University’s College Hockey Federation (CHF) Division III men’s hockey team extended its winning streak to seven games and improved to 4-0 at the LaHaye Ice Center by sweeping its series against ACCHL rival Georgia Tech. The Flames overcame a 3-1 deficit for a 6-3 victory on Friday night before winning Saturday afternoon’s rematch, 2-1.
Junior forward Carson Desmarais started the scoring against the Yellow Jackets with his eighth goal of the season, on a fast-break give-and-go finish off a return feed from senior forward Kenny Fogarty at the 14:44 mark of the first period.
Georgia Tech (5-8-1) netted the equalizer just over two minutes later on Ryyan Reule’s backhanded putback in front past junior goalie Kyle Wesbury before Ethan Molnar weaved through three Liberty defenders and lifted a wrist shot from the left circle into the upper netting for a 2-1 Yellow Jackets lead with 8:43 left in the period. Less than a minute later, GT seized a 3-1 lead on head captain Matthew Connelly’s right-crease putback of Reule’s shot from the left circle.
But the Flames (7-2) struck back for the first of five unanswered goals in the final minute of the period on a beautiful sequence from sophomore defenseman Jake Nole to senior forward and head captain Jaime Ross to senior forward Cameron Tobey. He netted his fourth goal in three games, redirecting Ross’ cross into the slot by chipping the puck over a Yellow Jackets’ defender and goalie Greg Merzigian and under the crossbar, trimming the deficit to 3-2.
Sophomore forward Luke Bessire tied the contest with a laser of a wrist shot from the top of the left circle that sneaked into the top shelf past Merzigian, who was screened by two Flames crashing the cage, with 13:39 left in the second period. Freshman defenseman Nicholas Bowman capped a two-on-one shorthanded fast break after creating a steal along the left boards and putting away a crossing pass from sophomore center Ethan Dunn for the game-winner with 7:04 left in the second period.
After a clutch save by Wesbury, sophomore wing Christian Garafolo finished an end-to-end drive up the right wing, beating Merzigian inside the left post with 3:01 left in the second to pad Liberty’s lead to 5-3 before Fogarty capped the scoring 1:10 into the third with a shot in the left crease.
Liberty and Georgia Tech played two scoreless periods in Saturday’s rematch before the Flames finally capitalized on a power-play goal 1:01 into the third on senior center Christian Kline’s deflection in front of Bessire’s shot from the right point. Ross doubled the lead to 2-0 at the 10:50 mark, slamming home a crossing pass in the left crease.
Reule cut the deficit to 2-1 with 3:46 remaining in regulation by finishing a fast-break feed from Connelly past junior goalie Dominik Jordan, who shut the door on the comeback bid after that.
The Flames will travel to Appalachian State this weekend for games Friday at 10:45 p.m. and Saturday at 1 p.m. before returning to the LIC to host ACCHL rival Coastal Carolina on Nov. 11-12.
Videos by Patrick Strawn/Club Sports Director of Video & Media