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[Cameron Knupp | WOUB]

Ohio falls in overtime 4-3 against Liberty

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ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) — It might have been 60 degrees in southeast Ohio this weekend, but there’s only one way to describe the atmosphere inside Bird Arena Saturday night – frosty.

When two American Collegiate Hockey Association heavyweights clash, there’s no love lost, and after Liberty’s nail biting 4-3 victory Friday night, the stakes were just as high.

Saturday’s matchup lived to the billing and then some.

The Bobcats drew first blood in the first, as Mathieu Ovaert picked up his 14th goal of the season off assists from Aiden Grieco and Noah Holt.

The lead was short lived, however. Jason Foltz leveled things a little over three minutes later on the power play, the only power play goal of the evening. The Flames were the only team to convert a power play, as this one would give them a 1-3 mark on the evening. The Bobcats would strike out on the man advantage, going 0-3.

Ohio head coach Lionel Mauron was adamant that the team has to be more clinical when given opportunities.

The Flames wasted little time in the second period, as just 26 seconds into the frames, Daniel Schwenke slotted home to give them their first lead of the night.

After pelting Liberty goalie Hunter Virostek’s net to no avail, the equalizer came with two minutes to go in the second period. Aiden Grieco picked up his second assist of the night on a hard shot that was deflected past the imperious Virostek by Drake Albers.

The fight was headed to the championship rounds, and the third period had both teams deliver haymakers. The Bobcats thought they had won the game with four minutes left as Jack Glen was able to divert an effort into the back of the net, but just one minute and four seconds later Brett Gammer easily wristed home to level things.

With nothing to separate the two sides, the bout headed to sudden-death 3-on-3 overtime, where with 1:54 left in the bonus period the knockout punch was landed by Liberty’s Ryan Finch. Finch found the five hole of Ohio goalie Justin Damon to wrap up a weekend sweep for the Flames, and a second straight 4-3 victory.

Virostek was the key for Liberty down the stretch, making a number of key stops in the third period to keep it in the contest, and saving 37 of 40 shots on goal.

Mauron says the team has to shake off the mental cobwebs to reach their potential.

“I think mentally we need to find an extra level,” said Mauron. “When you’re up with two minutes left, you’ve gotta put it away and we couldn’t do that.”

Ohio will look to bounce back next week, when it hosts Drexel for a two-game set at Bird Arena.