Newark, Del. — Propelled by three goals from their fourth line, the top-seeded Liberty Flames (20-4-1) demonstrated their depth in a 6-0 win over the second-year Stevenson Mustangs (7-17-0) in the first Mid-Atlantic Collegiate Hockey Conference South Division semifinal on Friday (Feb. 15) at Fred Rust Arena.
The Mustangs, while vastly improved over their inaugural season which ended in a 14-0 loss to Liberty, only mustered nine shots on goal in a game that saw the Flames control the attacking zone for almost its entirety and pepper Pat Schena with 58 total shots on goal.
The Flames, who started their fourth line, wasted no time setting the tone, as Charlie Wilkie finished a two-on-one rush on a net-front pass from Darren Carter to score the game’s initial goal 42 seconds in. First-line winger Matt Perri — who led the Flames with 28 points in the regular season — then added a goal from a 10-foot wrist shot at 4:44.
After assisting Wilkie’s first-period goal, Darren Carter registered assists on both second-period goals, scored by fellow linemates on the fourth combination Aaron Partridge at 8:20 and Wilkie at 16:38. Wilkie’s second goal of the game came when he stationed in front of the goal mouth and tipped a Brandon Drumheller cannon from the right point past Schena, lifting Liberty’s lead to 4-0 through two periods. The Flames used net-front positioning to add two third-period goals, with Joseph Nash and Blake Flanders both finding the back of the net.
Flames goalie Aaron Partridge had an easy work load, saving all nine shots he faced.
Liberty’s playoff win over Stevenson was the Flames’ third win over the Mustangs in as many meetings this season after defeating them 8-2 and 11-1 in regular season competition.
Liberty will face off against Delaware on Saturday (Feb. 16) in the MACH South Division final. Game time from Fred Rust Arena is 5:15 p.m.; both the Rowan Television Network and Delaware Hockey Night Radio will provide live coverage.
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