Lady Flames rout CSU, cap regular season 25-1 in ACHA play
February 9, 2018 | Lynchburg, Va.
Liberty University's ACHA Division I women's hockey team outshot Colorado State by a 74-6 margin and closed out its ACHA regular season with a 12-0 triumph, Friday afternoon at the LaHaye Ice Center, where defenseman C.J. Tipping and forward Chelsey Greenwood were honored on Senior Day.
The Lady Flames (25-3) scored all of their goals at even strength as the Lady Rams (5-15) rank among the best in the nation at penalty killing at better than 87 percent.
"At this point, we're gearing up for nationals," Liberty first-year Head Coach Chris Lowes said of the March 14-18 ACHA DI National Championships in Columbus, Ohio. "We had a good regular season with one loss and we've done a good job to put ourselves in a good spot for nationals as the No. 1 seed, if we hold onto it, which I believe we will."
Freshman defenseman Kristi Serafin netted the first goal of her Lady Flames career to start the scoring with 13:29 left in the first period, skating around a CSU defenseman and launching a wrist shot through traffic from the point that deflected off Lady Rams goalie Mackenzie Roberts into the back of the net.
"She made a real nice move and got a good, hard shot that found the back of the net," Lowes said. "I'm happy for her. You like to see, especially rookies, getting their first goal and that's something fun for our team to celebrate."
Five minutes later, Serafin set up Liberty's second goal, scored by sophomore forward Alex Smibert, giving the Lady Flames a 2-0 lead going into the second period.
Freshman forward Shannon Fehr netted two of Liberty's next three goals in the first 4:16 of the second period, with sophomore forward Aly Morris finishing the second off the first of Greenwood's three assists.
Graduate forward Courtney Gilmour finished feeds from sophomore forward Deena Birney and Smibert 5:25 into the second period before Fehr completed her hat trick two and a half minutes later off Greenwood's third assist to stretch the Lady Flames' advantage to 7-0.
"It was good to see things we've been implementing in practice being done in the game," Lowes said. "Even as we got a pretty healthy lead there into the second and third, we kept that competitive edge and played fast. Sometimes, it's easy to get sloppy when you get up 5-0 or 6-0, but our girls did a good job. We were quite in control there."
Sophomore defenseman Rachel Gibson capped the second-period scoring off an assist from Morris with 10:28 to go before Morris assisted junior forward Lauren McDonald to open the third-period scoring. Gilmour got her second goal before Greenwood completed the scoring with back-to-back goals in the final 4:34.
Sophomore Nadia Rupoli played the whole game in goal and posted her sixth shutout of the season, tying her with Colorado's Lexi Hartman for most in ACHA DI.
"She played well with limited action and our D corps did a good job in front of her," Lowes said.
Liberty had capped its three-game Fall Break road trip through Colorado with a 10-1 triumph Oct. 27 at CSU.
The Lady Flames have three weeks off before playing their last two home games against a Northern Virginia travel team on March 3-4. Then it's off to nationals.
Lowes said while Liberty has all but locked up the No. 1 seed, its first-round opponent in Columbus has yet to be determined.
"It just changed this past week from UMass to Grand Valley and there's really four or five teams that have a chance at that No. 8 seed," he said.
By Ted Allen/Staff Writer