Alabama series will be home farewell for six Flames
February 28, 2019 | Lynchburg, Va.
Liberty University's ACHA Division I men's hockey team will honor six seniors in their final home games Saturday at 7 p.m. against Alabama — goalies Cole Burack and Josh Halpenny, defensemen Kyle Crane and Matt Cruickshank, and forwards Zak Hayes and Zechariah Roberts.
Roberts, who has missed most of this season due to injury, is planning to return for a fifth season of eligibility as a graduate student next year.
After clinching their second straight Eastern States Collegiate Hockey League (ESCHL) regular-season championship and autobid to the March 21-26 ACHA DI National Championships in Frisco, Texas, the Flames, who slipped to No. 10 in this week's national rankings, will look to generate some momentum for the postseason in their regular-season series finale against the 20th-ranked Crimson Tide.
Liberty will have a week off before seeking to capture its third consecutive ESCHL Tournament title, March 15-17 in West Chester, Pa.
Scouting Preview, Games 32-33: No. 20 Alabama (16-15) at No. 10 Liberty University (22-6-3), Friday (7 p.m.) and Saturday (7 p.m.) at the LaHaye Ice Center. Both games will be webcast live by the Liberty Flames Sports Network (LFSN) with coverage carried on ESPN+.
Series record: Liberty took a 5-3 lead in the series by winning both meetings Feb. 9-10, 2018, at home after splitting the previous three series over the past two seasons.
Liberty scouting report: The Flames were swept for the second time this season by defending national champion Adrian College last weekend.
This weekend, Liberty will be without junior forward leading scorer Quinn Ryan (24G, 33A), who is in Russia competing for Team USA at the Winter World University Games. The Flames do return sophomore forward and third-leading scorer Cole Gammer (16G, 27A), who has missed the past two series due to injury.
Gammer and junior forward Brock Thompson (21G, 23A) will fuel the Flames' top line along with freshman forward Josh Fricks, a spring semester transfer who enjoyed a breakout game with two goals in last Friday's opener against Adrian.
In goal, Burack (15-4-3, 2.78 goals-against average, 89.8 save percentage, 3 shutouts) and Halpenny (7-2, 1.74 GAA, 93.0 SP, 2SO) anchor the defense.
Alabama scouting report: The Crimson Tide are 10-4 at home this season, but only 6-11 on away ice.
Offensively, they boast a balanced attack with six players totaling more than 20 points, paced by forwards Nick Messina (13G, 19A), Taylor Joseph (18G including four game-winners, 11A), Jack Rooney (13G, 13A), and Jacob Nau (14G, 11A).
Between the pipes, Garrett Kingsbury (8-4, 2.69 GAA, 91.9 SP, 2SO) has had the most success.
Coaches: Kirk Handy is in his 19th season as the Flames' head coach with an overall record of 428-178-29. Kyle Richards, who formerly led West Virginia's ACHA DI team to a 21-16-1 record, is 39-24 in his second season as head coach of the Crimson Tide.