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Hockey drops conference final rematch against Liberty 8-2

Sophomore goalie Payne Yoder (No. 31, above) in a game against Liberty University on Feb. 26, 2017. The Seawolves lost 8-2 against the Liberty Flames this past Friday in the ESCHL finals. PHOTO COURTESY OF AZTEC PHOTOS

Redemption for Stony Brook Hockey’s 2016 loss in the Eastern States Collegiate Hockey Association championship will have to wait. The Seawolves fell to the Liberty Flames 8-2 Friday night at the LaHaye Ice Center in Lynchburg, Virginia.

“I think that we have to stop relying on our skill,” head coach Chris Garofalo said. “We have to rely on our teamwork and play as a unit. We’re a very skilled team and that works against some teams, but teams like Liberty, they may not be as skilled up and down their lineup, but they play together as a team. They do the little things that we talk about, and the little things add up to big things, which result in goals.”

Goals were plentiful for the Flames, who found the back of the net seven times in the final two periods of the game. Sophomore forward Brock Thompson and freshman forward Jordan Bochinski each scored hat tricks. Bochinski’s second of the night, the sixth for his team, at the 11:28 mark of the third period ended Stony Brook sophomore goaltender Payne Yoder’s weekend earlier than anticipated. Yoder was pulled from the net and replaced by freshman goalkeeper Robby Lockwood.

“We were debating whether we should pull him at the end of the second period,” Garofalo said. “We said ‘Let’s just give him another chance to see what he can do,’ and we just decided that at some point, his head is going to be so out of it. You have to do damage control and stop the bleeding.”

Stony Brook Freshman defenseman Brendan Pepe’s third-period goal was one bright spot in the loss. Pepe faked dumping the puck into the Flames’ end of the ice, instead electing to put a shot on goal from the neutral zone. Liberty junior goalkeeper Cole Burack took the bait and left the net to play the dump-in, providing Pepe with an empty net to score from center ice.

“It was intentional because the goalie kept cheating every time we dumped it in and came out of the net,” Garofalo said. “It just caught him that time so it was a smart play by Pepe.”

Senior forward Brendan Calello scored the other Stony Brook goal, keeping his five-game goal-scoring streak against Liberty alive. Calello’s goal tied the game 1-1 early in the second on the power play, but it could not prevent the offensive onslaught which cut Yoder’s night short.

“He’s not playing tomorrow,” Garofalo said of Yoder. “No shot, we’re going to go with [sophomore goalkeeper Richard Shipman].”

Garofalo is confident that his team will have a stronger outing Saturday night when they face Liberty in the second game of the weekend.

“It’s a tough environment to play in down here,” Garofalo said. “It was literally a packed house. There were really no seats available and it’s a professional atmosphere. So I think that was something that makes it a little bit more intense. The silver lining is that this was a big wake-up call for us. Tomorrow, the guys are going to be ready to come and play.”

Stony Brook gets another chance at redemption Saturday at 7 p.m. at the LaHaye Ice Center. The game can be viewed on ESPN3.

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