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11/12/2012 8:01 PM  RssIcon

The 2012-13 UMBC Retrievers have had their share of ups and downs. First they sweep perennial national contender Siena, they they go 0 for 3 at the ACHA Showcase. They beat Virginia Tech, then fall to Montclair. Lose to bitter rival Maryland then outburst and dominate them. And last weekend they shut out St Joes before falling to beltway rival Towson. This past weekend UMBC looked to right the ship and get on a winning streak vs Liberty and Rowan.

UMBC started out of the gate strong vs the Flames, but as has been the case since LU joined the MACH, no one team was going to dominate this game. The Retrievers would control play early, then the Flames came on strong in the latter half of the period. UMBC had an unsuccesful power play opportunity and killed off two Flames'  power plays of their own; shots were 14-11 in favor of Liberty, but the scoreboard still read 0-0.

As the second period began, Liberty continued to build off their momentum gained at the end of the first. A failed clearing attempt was turned over at the blue line and the Flames capitalized putting the puck in the net to open the scoring just over a minute into the frame. After a failed power play opportunity, a tired power play unit was caught on the ice. A turnover in the nutral zone was turned back on net by Liberty. Trevor Miller (Macomb, MI) made the intial save but the rebound was cashed in giving LU a 2-0 lead. Liberty continued to pour it on as a clearing attempt was kept in at the blue line. The ensuing shot ricocheted off the back boards and to a waiting Liberty player at the side of the net who made it 3-0 7 minutes into the middle stanza.

The Retrievers, facing a three goal deficit, refused to give up. Getting back to basics worked the Flames down low on the forecheck. In the waning moments of the period Alec Hanock (Calabasas, CA) threw a puck from the side boards to the net, somehow finding a way to sneak under the Liberty netminder closing the gap to 3-1 heading into the locker room before the 3rd.

Coming back onto the ice; UMBC showed how resilient of a club they are by continuing to pressure the Flames and forcing turnovers, waiting for an opportunity to work their way back into the game. That opportunity came when Captain Nik Jost (Grosse Point Park, MI) made a leaping play to keep the puck in the zone. He corraled the puck and sent a pass to Dan Armstrong (Bethesda, MD) who beat the goaltender to make the game 3-2 with 16:19 remaining in the game.

With new life the Retrievers pressed hard looking for an equalizing goal. After working the Flames deep in their own zone, a Flames forward snuck out ahead of the play on the breakout. He recieved a breakaway pass and was stopped by Miller, but his momentum carried him into the net along with the puck restoring Liberty's two goal lead with 11:01 left. Jumping right back onto the horse, UMBC went back to work on the forecheck; creating scoring chances countered by Liberty saves. All that momentum was halted when Brandon Fritz (Walled Lake, MI) was assesed a five minute major penalty for charging and a game misconduct.

The Liberty power play controlled the puck in the UMBC end eventually getting a back door pass and goal sealing the game at 5-2 with 6:09 left in the game. UMBC continued to pressure, never giving up hope until the final horn sounded on a 5-2 loss.

On the heels of the first loss to Liberty's D2 team since the Flames joined the MACH; the Retrievers took on the undefeated #2 ranked team in the SE, the Rowan Profs. Before the weekend this game had huge ranking implications, but with the Liberty loss the Dawgs needed this game to remain contenders with other top teams in the region. Accordingly Coach Aaron Voegtli needed to find a spark, and he gambled on changing the line combinations to do so.

UMBC's game plan was to make Rowan play UMBC's game, dictate the pace  and style the game would be played at. It's easier to do that if you have the lead. Wasting very little time in doing so UMBC got an offensive zone face off in the opening minute. Matt Bloom (Ellicot City, MD) tied up his man on the faceoff and kicked the puck back to Colin Devlyn (Highlands Ranch, CO). Devlyn wasted little time leeeing a shot go that was never seen by the Rowan goaltender and sailed into the net giving UMBC a 1-0 lead. From there UMBC kept Rowan on its heels, countering any Prof pressure with sustained pressure of their own. UMBC had a power play opportunity to extend their lead, but failed to convert on it. The first period ended with UMBC up 1-0, while outshooting Rowan by a 12-8 margin.

The second period played out much like the first period did. Good back and forth hockey by both teams without many mistakes. But as was the case Saturday, what few mistakes there were would be capitalized on. After an offsides call Freshman Zac Tracy (Marriotsville, MD) won the faceoff back. In NHL like fashion a dman to dman pass found Ben Rafferty (Amherst, NH) who sent a one touch pass to Sean O'Connor (Stony Point, NY) at the offensive blue line. O'Connor found Tracy streaking into the zone on a 2 on 1 opportunity with DJ Fadler (Crofton, MD). Tracy didnt pass up the opportunity and beat the Rowan goaltender with a high shot glove side giving UMBC a 2-0 lead.

Arelatively penalty free game meant that when given the opportunities, the special teams needed to convert. The Retrievers killed of a Devlyn holding penalty, before going on the power play for the second time in the game. During a regroup after a Rowan clear, Jost found Bloom with speed on the rush. Bloom straked down the far side of the ice before letting a shot go low glove side. The Rowan netminder made the save but the puck lay trickling behind him in the crease. O'Connor swooped in to bury the power play goal giving UMBC a 3-0 lead with 3 minutes left in the second period.

The lead would be short lived as a late tripping penalty by Rafferty gave Rowan one more power play opportunity. Jost blocked a point shot in front of Miller, but the rebound deflected to another Prof in front, who put the puck into the net trimming the lead to 3-1 heading into the third period.

Not wanting to give Rowan a chance at the comebock UMBC took control of the game in the 3rd period only allowing 4 shots on goal the entire frame. UMBC recieved one more power play with a chance to seal the game in the 3rd. Tracy recieved a breakout pass from Rafferty then sprinted down the ice before beating the goalie high glove once again putting UMBC up 4-1. The defense took over from ther, breaking up every Rowan rush and clearing the puck. The clock ran out and UMBC had knocked off undefeated Rowan.

"We executed our game plan, we let Liberty control play (Saturday) and came out and did want we wanted to do" said Coach Voegtli. UMBC currently sits at 6-7-0 on the season and 2-2-0 in MACH South play. UMBC will take on Georgetown next Saturday and William Paterson next Sunday.





















University of Maryland, Baltimore County
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