No. 1 ASU beats No. 4 Liberty 3-2 in overtime thriller

No. 1 ASU beats No. 4 Liberty 3-2 in overtime thriller

Credit: Michelle Hekle Photography

Ostertag scored the game-winning goal in overtime

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by Brad Denny

azfamily.com

Posted on January 16, 2014 at 10:32 PM

TEMPE, Ariz. -- When two elite teams square off, regulation can often be insufficient, and even then, that extra time may not be enough.

Last year, Arizona State hosted the Liberty Flames, and that game ended with an epic eight-round shootout, in which Sun Devil defenseman Darcy Charrois won it for ASU.

Thursday night's rematch between No. 1 Arizona State and the fourth-ranked Flames was heading down that same path before a sudden and thrilling finish.

ASU freshman Ryan Ostertag netted the game-winning goal with just 44 seconds left in the overtime period to propel the Sun Devils to a 3-2 victory in a hard fought and highly entertaining game between two of the ACHA's best programs. With the win, the Sun Devils improve to 26-1-0 on the year 

These teams did not waste any time in getting on the scoreboard after the puck dropped.

An early clearing attempt around the end boards by ASU defenseman Jarrod Levos was intercepted by Liberty's Ryley Egan, who fired a cross-ice pass to an open Lindsay LeBlanc for the open one-timer just 1:23 into the game. 

ASU soon countered just 1:18 later on a one-timer of their own. Tommy Cooney found a streaking Zack Holstrom for the goal, which beat Flame goalie Blair Bennett high to his stickside.

In the second period, special teams proved to be huge for both teams.

Liberty struck first when they converted on the power play after a Kale Dolinski interference call, but not without some controversy. Levin made two initial saves, but as he lay on the ice scrambling to cover the puck, Jackson Kuhn poked the puck in. However, the goal became dislodged at nearly the same moment. Undaunted, the officials kept to their initial call of a Liberty goal.

Later in the period, a rash of Liberty cross checks let ASU tie it. A pair of cross checks came within 65 seconds of each other, but while ASU could not convert during the 55 seconds of a 5-on-3, Dolinski one-timed a Colin Hekle pass past Bennett for the equalizer.

The third period saw both defenses tighten up and shut down any offensive chances before they could begin, with players throwing their bodies around and blocking several shots. Both Levin and Bennett were up the challenge of the shots that made it through, and the game went into overtime.

With each passing tick of the clock, flashbacks of last year's epic shootout returned. However, Ostertag put those to rest.

Gaining possession deep in the ASU zone, he skated up the right win, forming a 2-on-1 with Brian McGinty. Taking the shot himself, he beat Bennett high with a wristshot. It is Ostertag's fourth game-winning goal of the year.

Levin improves to 14-1-0 on the year, while Bennett drops to 11-3-0. 

These two teams will have a rematch next week when ASU travels to Virginia to open a two-game series on Friday.

Scoring Summary

1st - LU, 18:37: LeBlanc (13), assists Egan, Dinnison

1st - ASU, 17:19: Holstrom (6), assists Cooney, Rivard

2nd - LU, 13:52, Kuhn (10), assist, LeBlanc [power play]

2nd - ASU, 7:17: Dolinski (17), assist Hekle [power play]

OT - ASU, 0:44: Ostertag (12), assist McGinty

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