Liberty beats Delaware in a close semifinal game, only to lose a heartbreaker in double overtime to Syracuse in the championship game.
The Flames got off to a rough start against Delaware in the first period but survived on the strong play of senior goaltender Josh Halpenny. Head Coach Kirk Handy described getting out of the first period 1-0 as a pivotal point in the game. Handy said that the “time off our guys had, not playing last weekend…it took us a bit to get back in the game.”
Liberty would dial up the pressure in the final two periods, getting goals from Quinn Ryan and Zechariah Roberts to secure the victory. Liberty’s third line of Roberts-Cox-Hamilton had a tremendous game, wreaking all sorts of havoc on the Blue Hens. The line would produce the game tying and game winning goals that pushed the Flames to victory.
Sunday’s matchup against the Orange of Syracuse would be one of the longest games in Liberty history, which had over 120 shots, took 4 hours to complete, and ended in a gut-wrenching loss.
In contrast to Friday’s semifinal game, Liberty would get off to a great start in the championship game, controlling much of the period. Chaydan Lauber would find the back of the net midway through the period to put the Flames up 1-0.
Syracuse would answer back with a resurgence of energy for the last 40 minutes of regulation, including late game heroics of scoring with just 23 seconds remaining in the game, to tie it and send us to overtime.
In overtime, both teams had numerous chances to score the game winner, but the goaltenders continued to shut the door, keeping the game gridlocked. This was until a net-front scramble late in the second overtime resulted in a goal for the Orange by Connor McNamara, giving them the victory 3-2 and clinching their first ESCHL Conference Championship. The goal ended Liberty’s quest for three straight Conference Championships.
The Flames will head west to Dallas, TX for the ACHA National Tournament where they will take on #9 Arizona on Saturday at 8:30pm CST, as they begin the journey to be National Champions.