From Liberty University Office of Communications & Public Engagement
By Ted Allen
Riding momentum from their first “Frozen Four” appearance in 13 years at the ACHA National Championships, Liberty University’s Division I men’s hockey team will open its 2021-22 season at the LaHaye Ice Center this weekend. The Flames play at 7 p.m. Friday against Indiana University of Pennsylvania and at 10 p.m. Saturday against NC State University.
“Bringing in 11 new players, there will be a lot of energy and excitement around our program,” Head Coach Kirk Handy said. “We’re really looking forward to the guys who have been through the battle and who went a long way in the national tournament, but we really love the guys we’re bringing in as well.”
The Flames will be tested by fire on a regular basis this season. They will play two-game series both home and away against Jamestown (N.D.) and Minot State (N.D.), which ended its season in the national semifinals near St. Louis in April. Liberty will also travel to Chicago for a Nov. 19-21 showcase hosted by Illinois and featuring defending national champion Adrian College, Minot, UNLV, Arizona State, Davenport, and Rhode Island. The Flames will entertain UNLV on Jan. 28-29 at the LIC, with the second game being the last of three “Midnight Mayhem” matchups this season.
At this time, the Flames are scheduled to play in front of 50-percent capacity crowds for home games — up to 1,600 fans — compared to less than 10 percent last season (250) due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“Having a lot of fans is huge,” senior goalie Hunter Virostek said. “We can feed off the crowd, the energy is awesome. It’s a great experience for the whole campus and for our freshmen that missed out on it last year … it will be great.”
The team will make the most of its opportunities to be refined by regular-season clashes with ranked opponents as it looks to make an even deeper push at nationals, set for March 10-20 in St. Louis.
Meanwhile, Liberty’s three-time defending ACHA Division I National Championship women’s hockey team has another week to prepare for Sept. 25-26 scrimmages against the Washington Pride before opening its regular season with an Oct. 2-3 championship rematch with Lindenwood University, with both series at the LIC.
The Lady Flames tied the Lady Lions’ records with their third consecutive and fourth national crown in the past six years, April 19 in Minot, N.D. They have St. Louis on their minds this season as they have hopes of hoisting back-to-back tournament trophies with a third straight Women’s Midwest Hockey League (WMHL) championship Feb. 25-27 before contending for a record fourth straight and fifth overall ACHA DI title there in mid-March.
(Originally published at https://www.liberty.edu/news/2021/09/15/hockey-team-reloads-for-season-opener-friday-on-home-ice/)