From Liberty Club Sports
By Ted Allen
Sophomore goalie Kylie Mebs saved a breakaway opportunity with 1:55 to play in sudden-death overtime before sophomore forward Carly Glover capitalized with the game-winning goal on a counter attack 15 seconds later to lift Liberty University’s three-time defending ACHA Division I National Championship women’s hockey team to a 3-2 come-from-behind triumph over Lindenwood University, Sunday afternoon at the LaHaye Ice Center.
The dramatic victory, which was much more reminiscent of the April 19 nationals final in Minot, N.D., than Saturday’s 7-2 rout, completed a sweep for the Lady Flames (4-0) in their ACHA regular-season-opening series against the Lions (1-3). The two teams are tied for ACHA DI women’s national records with three consecutive and four total tournament titles.
“It was a good hockey game right to the end,” Liberty Assistant Coach Justin Forth said. “Lindenwood played us well today. For 60(-plus) minutes it was a battle the whole time. Every shift counted and every shift we had an opportunity to be better and do the little things right.”
“(Saturday’s) win, where it was such a blowout for us … brought the intensity up that much more and rekindled that rivalry with us,” Lady Flames graduate forward and head captain Vanessa DeMerchant added. “I’m looking forward to seeing them again the rest of the season and seeing how we both improve and what that looks like gearing up toward nationals again.”
Lindenwood struck quickly to open the scoring in Sunday’s rematch, with Risa Shatford taking a pass from defenseman Tessa O’Connor behind her own blue line and capitalizing on a one-on-one breakaway down the center of the ice by lifting a backhander over the glove of Lady Flames sophomore goalie Kylie Mebs just under the crossbar.
Liberty senior forward Yannick Truter responded to tie the contest with a wraparound shot from behind the left post, sneaking the puck past Lions defenseman Mackenzie White after gathering the rebound of her own shot in the right crease stopped by goalie Emily McDonald (39 saves).
McDonald, who had blocked back-to-back shots by graduate forward Shelby Bradford seconds before Truter’s putback, continued to stifle the Lady Flames’ opportunities throughout a scoreless second period. She rejected an open look from sophomore forward Brityn Fussy off the opening faceoff won by DeMerchant and denied a backhanded wraparound attempt by Truter around the right post among many more quality chances.
“Lindenwood did a good job of collapsing and protecting their goal and we weren’t able to find the success offensively that we did (Saturday),” Forth said. “We generated a lot of chances, we just couldn’t finish at the same rate.”
“We struggled a little bit today to find the back of the net, but I think it will come,” DeMerchant added. “Overall, some of our younger girls are stepping up and then our senior girls are really showing the ropes for them, too. Everybody’s fitting in really well and we’re starting to mesh as a team.”
Meanwhile, Mebs, who made 18 saves as the Lady Flames outshot the Lions 42-20, thwarted multiple Lindenwood opportunities, including another breakaway by Shatford and a few high-percentage shots on a successful penalty kill.
Liberty seized its first lead with 7:28 left in the third period when freshman forward Haley Battles received a feed from graduate defenseman Sally Hoerr in the top of the right circle off a secondary assist from freshman forward Zosia Adamek and pocketed a low, hard shot off the left post and into the net.
“That was huge having Truter, a strong senior, getting the tying goal and then seeing a freshman (Battles) get the next goal and then again a transfer sophomore (Glover) get the game-winning goal,” DeMerchant said. “It’s nice to see the goals being spread out throughout the classes to prove that we do have that depth to be able to get the scoring when we need it from different girls.”
With 3:18 remaining in regulation, the Lions netted the equalizer when freshman forward Rylee Gee backhanded a putback of defenseman Kim Turcotte’s shot from the right point past a diving Mebs into the left side of the cage.
A minute into the five-minute, three-on-three overtime, Lindenwood was called for having two many players on the ice, giving the Lady Flames a four-on-three power play for the next two minutes. However, McDonald continued to stand on her head and the Lions killed off the penalty. Fussy’s final shot from the high slot was blocked by a Lindenwood defenseman directly to Gee as she emerged from the penalty box, springing her for a one-one-one with Mebs, who made her clutch kick save.
“That was a huge save for her,” DeMerchant said. “That’s the trust that we put in our goalies. You never want to have to put them in that position, but she came through and I was a momentum changer and it didn’t take much longer after that to find the back of the net.”
Given the reprieve, the Lady Flames mounted a counterattack with graduate defenseman Dana McLeod and Amalek setting up Glover on transition. She took the puck and skated across the slot before delivering the sudden-death shot past McDonald with 1:40 left in the overtime.
“Glover had a really good finish, a nice low, hard shot for the game-winner,” Forth said. “It was good to see the girls get the winner and it’s good to boost team morale and know that even when we’re in those close games, they can find a way to win.”
“It was a nail-biter and you never want it to be that close, but to still pull out the win, it just shows that we can bear down and grit it out when we need to,” DeMerchant added.
Liberty will be off next weekend before traveling to NCAA Division III Stevenson (Md.) University on Oct. 16.
(Originally published at https://www.liberty.edu/club-sports/news/glovers-sudden-death-game-winner-completes-lady-flames-sweep-of-visiting-lions/)