Overtime needed, but No. 1 ASU hockey tops No. 4 Liberty 3-2

"Captain Colin Hekle checks a LU player, breaking the opposition's stick in half at a home game on Thursday, Jan. 16. (Photo by Mario Mendez)

ASU captain Colin Hekle checks a Liberty player, breaking the opposition’s stick in half at a home game on Thursday, Jan. 16. ASU won against Liberty 3-2. (Photo by Mario Mendez)

The last time No. 1 ASU and No. 4 Liberty met last season, it took a shootout to decide the winner.

 

Thursday it didn’t make it that far, but it took 4:16 of the five-minute overtime for ASU to come out with a 3-2 win.

It was since-graduated senior defenseman Darcy Charrois that won it for ASU (26-1-0) on Jan. 10, 2013. Thursday night belonged to freshman forward Ryan Ostertag.

“It feels awesome,” Ostertag said. “It’s fun to just be out there in overtime. It’s obviously a lot of hype and things like that, but scoring the winner is awesome. I got a nice pass (from senior forward Brian McGinty) and I can’t take all the credit; it’s my teammates who I have to give the credit to.”

Even though ASU pulled out the win against Liberty (21-4-1), coach Greg Powers said he was not pleased with the way the team played.

“I thought tonight, to be honest, that was probably the sloppiest game we’ve played,” Powers said. “I’m not happy with how we played but again, like I just told the guys, sometimes you have to win ugly and that’s what we did.”

The first period started off with fireworks on both sides: Two goals were scored within 2:41 of the opening whistle.

Liberty netted the game’s first goal 1:23 into the contest when junior forward Lindsay LeBlanc, the Flames’ leading scorer, positioned himself in front of ASU’s net, collected the pass from junior forward Ryley Egan and shot it to the twine.

A mere 1:18 later, the freshman line of Zack Holstrom, Tommy Cooney and Eric Rivard returned the score to a tie. Rivard shot it around the net to Cooney, whose centering pass hit the tape of Holstrom, and Holstrom did the rest. His one-timer beat Liberty senior goalie Blair Bennett high stick-side.

The second period saw both sides trade power-play goals. Liberty once again grabbed the lead, when senior defenseman Jackson Kuhn scored with 13:53. It came with ASU senior forward Kale Dolinski in the box for an interference call.

Dolisnki would make up for it.

While ASU was on the power play, Dolinski added to his ACHA-leading point total when his one-timer from senior captain Colin Hekle snuck past Bennett and sent the game to a third period and eventually overtime.

Dolinski has fallen into a bad habit of taking penalties, something with which Powers said he was not pleased.

“Kale’s a marquee player and other teams are going to go after him, and they are, and he’s taking the bait,” Powers said. “He’s a really smart player and he’s too valuable.”

Dolinski has been called for a penalty in his last three games and is now third on the team in PIMs with 26.

ASU has the rest of the weekend off then travels to Liberty next weekend for a two-game rematch of Thursday’s overtime final.

Additional notes:

– Since the 12-0 win against Central Oklahoma on Jan. 9, ASU has had a lead for 4:16 across the last three games. Including the 4:16 of overtime Thursday, the Sun Devils have played exactly 180 minutes, or the equivalent of three games, without having a lead.

– Freshman forward Sean Murphy and sophomore defenseman Brett Blomgren were both scratched for Thursday’s game. Both are expected to play next week at Liberty.

– ASU is now 4-0 in games decided in overtime.

Reach the reporter at justin.emerson@asu.edu or follow him on Twitter @J15Emerson