DIII Flames stretch winning streak to 9 games by sweeping ACCHL rival Coastal Carolina
After being ousted by two-time defending champion Coastal Carolina in the past four ACCHL Tournaments, Liberty University’s Division III men’s hockey team turned the tables on their longtime nemesis, sweeping the Chanticleers over the weekend at the LaHaye Ice Center to extend their winning streak to nine games.
The Flames (9-2) overcame 1-0 and 2-1 deficits on Friday night before prevailing in overtime, 5-4. They carried the momentum from that dramatic win into Saturday afternoon’s 5-1 triumph.
Sophomore forward Luke Bessire tied the contest at 1-1 with a wraparound goal inside the right post at the 18:34 mark of the second period after picking up the rebound of a shot by senior forward Cameron Tobey. Less than two minutes later, Coastal reclaimed the lead before the Flames tied it back up at 2-2 on a three-on-one top-shelf backhanded finish by junior Carson Desmarais off a cross-crease assist from senior linemate Kenny Fogarty with 12:53 remaining in the period.
Liberty seized its first lead on Desmarais’ second score, this time into an open net off a nifty backhanded assist from Fogarty through traffic in front with 6:34 left in the second. The Flames then padded it to 4-2 at the 17:59 mark of the third on a one-timed shot by sophomore center Ethan Dunn through the five-hole off a short cross in front from Tobey.
But looking to put the game on ice on a power play, the Flames instead gave up a shorthanded goal on a breakaway steal and shot by Owen O’Brien that beat Liberty junior goalie Dominik Jordan to the far post, trimming the deficit to 4-3. O’Brien later assisted Liam Walsh with a cross-ice feed on a fast break before he skated in and beat Jordan from deep in the left circle.
Jordan made a few clutch saves to send the game into overtime and the Flames capitalized on a beautiful give-and-go pass play from sophomore left wing Christian Garafolo to Fogarty back to Garofalo in front where he beat Coastal goalie James Amorelli through the five hole.
The Chanticleers actually struck first in Saturday’s rematch on a shot from the high slot off the stick of defenseman Justin Lallak just 1:10 after the game’s opening faceoff, before Liberty responded with five unanswered goals to pull past them.
Bessire again got things started for the Flames at the 15:42 mark of the second period with a wrist shot through the slot after pivoting clockwise out of the left circle on a fadeaway. Less than two minutes later, senior right wing Andrew Pascarella punched a putback of a shot by senior center Christian Kline inside the right post for the game-winner.
Then, 2:01 after that, Tobey assisted Dunn’s point-blank finish with a drive through the slot and beautiful backhanded dish across the crease after kicking the puck off his skate, putting the Flames up 3-1. With Liberty on a power play with 9:55 remaining in the second period, Desmarais showed off his stickwork by tapping the puck out of the air with a backhand from the left crease that glanced off the right post and in. Garafolo put the win away on a power play with a one-timer from the top of the left circle into the top left corner of the cage.
Liberty will have two weekends off before concluding its fall semester by hosting Neumann (Pa.) University on Dec. 3 at 10:15 p.m. and Dec. 4 at 1:30 p.m. at the LIC.
By Ted Allen/Staff Writer; Videos by Patrick Strawn/Club Sports Director of Video & Media