Flames set for first clash with ACHA DI newcomer Rochester
October 24, 2013 | Lynchburg, Va.
Michigan will be much on the minds of members of Liberty University's ACHA Division I men's hockey team this season, as the Flames play 11 games against teams from the Great Lake State.
This weekend, for the second of three weeks in a row, Liberty will host a team from Michigan at the LaHaye Ice Center, ACHA DI newcomer Rochester College. The Flames, who moved up from No. 9 to No. 7 in this week's fifth regular-season ACHA DI rankings, are coming off a two-game sweep of 12th-ranked Davenport University, which clinched the second annual Blue and Gray Cup, won by the Panthers last year after sweeping Liberty at LaHaye.
Next weekend, Eastern Michigan will come to town before the Flames ends their 12-game homestand with a trip up north to face Oakland twice and Davenport a third time Nov. 21-23. Oakland will complete the four-game home-and-away series at Liberty on Feb. 7 and 8.
Rochester is one of eight teams from Michigan in the 57-team ACHA DI. Only New York (13) and Pennsylvania (14 ) have more. It replaces the University of Rochester (N.Y.) and Youngstown State (Ohio) as one of four newcomers to the league, along with Colorado, Colorado State, and Wayne State, also from Michigan, which moved up from Division III. But unlike the others, Rochester is a first-year program, making its debut at Division I.
Scouting Preview, Games 11-12: No. 9 Liberty (10-1) vs. Rochester (4-5-0-2), Oct. 25 and 26 (7 p.m.) at the LaHaye Ice Center. Both games will be webcast live by the Liberty Flames Sports Network.
Liberty scouting report: The Flames have outscored opponents by a 58-26 margin so far this season, even after edging Davenport by one goal twice last weekend.
Though they will be without leading scorer Andrew McCombe (seven goals, nine assists, 16 points) for the first game against Rochester, the Flames have plenty of firepower on their offensive lines. Freshman forward Robert Ward (6G, 9A, 15P) and senior defenseman and team captain Jackson Kuhn (6G, 9A, 15P) rank in the top 20 in ACHA DI scoring while junior forwards Lindsay LeBlanc (6G, 8A) and Ryley Egan (7G, 5A) follow close behind with 14 and 12 points, respectively.
Freshman Matt Pinel (7-1, 2.89 goals-against average, 0.90 save percentage) and senior Blair Bennett (3-0, 1.47 GAA, 0.94 SP) have each recorded one shutout in goal for Liberty with Bennett allowing only six goals in five appearances since returning.
Rochester scouting report: A first-year ACHA Division I team, the Warriors' attack is anchored by George Holt (four goals) and Matt Kadolph (12 points), who ranks among the league leaders in points by a rookie. Goaltenders Brenden Kruckenberg (3-3, 2.58 GAA, 0.93 SP) and Zakk Olvin (1-2-2, 2.66 GAA, 0.93 SA) both rank in the top four in the nation for rookie keepers in goals against average and save percentage.
All-time Series: This is the first-ever meeting between the Flames and Warriors.
Coaches: Kirk Handy is in his 14th season as Flames head coach and has an overall record of 289-123-13. This is Nick Tomczyk's first season at Rochester after serving as associate head coach at Oakland for the past three seasons.