(Photo: Allyson Cummings/WCSN)
The last time the Liberty Flames came to Oceanside, last January 10th, it took five minutes of overtime plus eight shootout rounds before former ASU defenseman Darcy Charrios clinched the 4-3 win for the Sun Devils.
This time, the puck stopped in overtime as a game-winning goal netted by freshman forward Ryan Ostertag propelled (26-1-0) ASU past (21-5-0) Liberty 3-2.
“It was a close game,” Ostertag said. “It’s always fun to get a goal and finish off a win like that. It’s fun to just be out there in overtime”
“I told the guys ‘Sometimes you got to win ugly,’ and that’s what we did,” Coach Greg Powers said.
The game at Oceanside Ice Arena was much like a boxing match. The No.1 versus No.4 matchup was all one-two, one-two punch with ASU’s Robert Levin and Liberty’s Blair Bennett both withstanding a flurry of shots.
But the Flames were the first to find twine.
With 18:37 in the opening period, a bouncing pinball of a puck would find the stick of Liberty’s leading-scorer, Lindsay LeBlanc, where he would nick in his 13th goal.
A minute later, freshman forward Zachary Holstrom responded for the maroon and gold.
The sequence began after the face-off, when freshman forward Eric Rivard kicked the puck out from behind the cage to linemate Tommy Cooney. Cooney dished it out to Holstrom, who pulled the trigger on a one-timer to tie the game 1-1.
Holstrom would leave the game in the 3rd after receiving a hard hit on the end boards in Liberty’s zone.
“I think tonight was probably the sloppiest game we’ve played,” Powers said. “It was really up and down. There were plays where we looked sharp and good, then the next shift – I don’t know what would happen.”
The puck found LeBlanc’s tape again in the second period. The forward delivered on the power play after a Kale Dolinski interference penalty.
But Captain Colin Hekle would give Dolinski a chance to fire back, hitting him on a one-timer off the crossbar past Bennett to tie the game at 2 a piece.
As the buzzer went off in regulation and the seconds ticked off the clock in overtime, it looked as though the Sun Devil crowd was going to see a game reminiscent of last year.
With 44.3 seconds left in OT, Ostertag came up clutch, burying the puck top shelf past Bennett to finish off the Flames.
This won’t be the last time ASU faces off with Liberty this season, but next time it will be in Liberty’s territory.
Next week, the Sun Devils travel across the country to Lynchburg, Virginia for a two game series on January 24th and 25th.
“There’s a lot we’re going to fix. We’re going to be a lot sharper on Friday. I guarantee that,” Powers said.