UNCW hockey sweeps Liberty

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UNCW hockey sweeps Liberty

Brian Carpenter, Contributing Writer

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With the help of seven power-play goals between Friday and Saturday, the UNC Wilmington hockey team defeated Liberty University at the LaHaye Ice Center on Liberty’s campus 8-1 on Friday night and 4-3 on Saturday afternoon.

Game One: Seahawks defeat Flames 8-1

The Seahawks got off to a fast start, scoring three power-play goals in the first two periods and one even-strength goal to give themselves a 4-0 lead.

Liberty’s Scott Chisholm scored a shorthanded goal early in the third to make it 4-1 but Wilmington answered back with another three power-play goals and one even-strength goal to push Wilmington to an 8-1 win.

Forward Ben Cooperrider finished with a hat trick while forward Joey Alexander added two power-play goals and defenseman Chris Schwartz scored his first goal of the season. Bennett Clark and John Cooperrider added the other two goals for the Seahawks.

Game Two: Seahawks defeat Flames 4-3

Defenseman Gage Igelhart’s even-strength goal and forward Logan Young’s power-play goal got the Seahawks off to a 2-0 lead. However, Liberty’s Keegan Spours answered with two even-strength goals for the Flames which made it a 2-2 game at the end of the first period.

Clark’s wrist shot from the blue line that beat Liberty’s Derek Guzik glove side made it a 3-2 game and B. Cooperrider added another goal to give UNCW a 4-2 advantage in the second period. Andrew Barlass added a power-play goal for Liberty to make it a 4-3 game late in the second but UNCW held onto its lead in the third period.

The Seahawks had to kill off a 5-minute major penalty midway through the third period in a one-goal game in the Saturday game.

“At first the task was very daunting only having a one-goal lead,” says goaltender Ryan Besemer. “But I think we took the penalty minute by minute, instead of looking at the thing in its entirety. The team did a great job clearing the puck and not letting Liberty set anything up.”

This was Besemer’s first game action since playing against South Carolina on Sept. 30 and coming in he said he was nervous. Since go

“Goalie is a very mental position and I was just really hoping I would get back into the groove and where I left off from playing USC,” said Besemer. “This was once again a team that I had never played before and I had no idea what to expect. It is all a surprise which is the nerve-racking part.”

Puck movement was also a key to the success the Seahawks were able to have this weekend. Power plays in the game boosted the Seahawks confidence as they were able to make good on the scoring opportunities the advantage provided.

“Everyone on the power play was getting open and being an option which gives people like Joey Alexander some freedom to make a risky pass with high reward,” says Evangelous. “The power play is something we stress in practice and something that I am glad to see success after so much work.”

Evangelous finished with five assists on the weekend and he gives credit to the forwards and how productive they were this weekend.

“They did a great job opening up the back door and getting to the net,” said Evangelous. “I think if we can keep that mentality going through the year we will find success and are a tough team to play against.”

With rankings for Division III coming out soon and having lost to Liberty in the regional tournament last season, this was an important road trip for the Seahawks.

“Obviously getting two wins on the weekend is huge especially with the first rankings coming out soon.,” says Besemer. “I think overall the weekend was huge because it was our first road trip and it really allowed us to gel as a team. Even with the two wins this weekend, there is still much to learn from these games. There were still plenty of mistakes that we will go ahead and review and try and fix in practice.”

After having a week off, the team will return home to host Christopher Newport University on Friday, Nov. 10 and Saturday, Nov. 11. Friday’s game will be at 10 p.m. and Saturday’s game will be at 4:30 p.m. Both games will be played at the Wilmington Ice House.

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