Flames' 2013-14 slate stacked with ACHA DI teams in top 20
May 1, 2013 | Lynchburg, Va.
Another extremely strong schedule awaits Liberty University's American Collegiate Hockey Association Division I men's hockey team for the 2013-2014 season that opens Sept. 20.
The 37-game slate, including 22 home dates at the LaHaye Ice Center, is highlighted by four games against 2012 ACHA DI national champion Delaware, Arizona, Stony Brook, and Oakland — which beat Liberty in the 2006 Division II title game and Penn State in the 2007 Division I final. It also features three games against 2011 ACHA DI champion Davenport and Arizona State, and two at Ohio.
"The kind of talent we're playing throughout the year includes a ton of top-20 teams again," said Flames head coach Kirk Handy, who is entering his 14th season at the helm. "I would say there's more top teams (than last season). Arizona State had a great run this year and we'll play them three times — once out there and twice here. Every week, we're going to have to be ready to play and that's something we want to pride ourselves on, being ready to go."
The Bobcats eventually eliminated the Flames in the second round of the national tournament, played in Chicago, and finished fourth, one spot behind the Sun Devils.
Liberty hopes to extend its six-month season to seven by qualifying as one of 20 teams in the ACHA Division I national tournament field for the seventh time in the eight seasons it's had a DI team.
"We want to be playing in the middle of March," Handy said. "Nationals are going to be March 6-10 at the University of Delaware. We're excited about that."
While the Flames are anticipating a strong recruiting class, which will be finalized by the beginning of June and should be ready to contribute right away, Liberty's returning roster is loaded with talented players, including a handful that missed significant stretches of last season with injuries.
"We've developed a very, very good off-ice conditioning program and we feel that's going to be a huge part of our success," Handy said. "Based on the guys we have who are another year older with our program, we're going to be fine. Obviously, I don't think we're going to have one guy replace Rick (Turner's) scoring (Turner, a forward, was the fourth-leading scorer in ACHA Division I this year), but we're going to try to do it by scoring by committee.
"Our hope is we have three lines that can score and one shut-down line and we feel like we'll have more depth next year than ever," he added. "Our players will be, skill-wise, very close, which is an exciting thing to have."
Here is the complete 2013-14 schedule with home games at the LaHaye Ice Center in bold:
Sept. 6 Atlanta Jr. A Knights
Sept. 7 Atlanta Jr. A Knights
Sept. 13 Hampton Jr. A Whalers
Sept. 14 Hampton Jr. A Whalers
Sept. 20-21 at West Virginia University
Sept. 27 Towson University
Oct. 4-5 at Ohio University
Oct. 11-12 University of Arizona
Oct. 18-19 Davenport University
Oct. 25-26 Rochester College
Nov. 1-2 Eastern Michigan University
Nov. 8-9 University of Delaware
Nov. 15-16 Stony Brook University
Nov. 21 at Davenport University
Nov. 22-23 at Oakland (Mich.) University
Dec. 7 Virginia Tech
Jan. 11-12 at Stony Brook University
Jan. 16 at Arizona State University
Jan. 17-18 at Arizona University
Jan. 24-25 Arizona State University
Jan. 31-Feb. 1 at University of Delaware
Feb. 7-8 Oakland University
Feb. 14-15 West Virginia
Feb. 21-22 Monroe Community College