Flames debut at No. 8 in ACHA DI men's hockey coaches' poll
September 12, 2019 | Lynchburg, Va.
Liberty University's ACHA Division I men's hockey team, which ended the 2018-19 season at No. 8 in the final ACHA DI rankings, will begin the 2019-20 season at that same spot when its opens against Duquesne next Friday at 7 p.m. at the LaHaye Ice Center.
"We are just excited for the season to get going and we believe in our team," said Flames Head Coach Kirk Handy, who is entering his 20th season at the helm.
Reigning ACHA DI National Champion Minot State received 19 of 24 first-place votes in the preseason coaches' poll to debut at No. 1, followed by Lindenwood University, which eliminated Liberty in the quarterfinal round of last year's ACHA DI National Championships near Dallas.
The Flames, who finished last season at 26-7-4 after defending their Eastern States Collegiate Hockey League (ESCHL) regular-season title and earned their second consecutive auto-bid to nationals, are one of four ESCHL teams in the top 25 preseason rankings, joining No. 12 Stony Brook, No. 18 Syracuse, and No. 22 Rhode Island.
The first ranking of the regular season will be released on Oct. 2, and the first computer ranking — which will help determine the 20 teams that qualify for nationals — debuts on Nov. 6.
A total of 70 teams will compete in Division I this season, including 11 new teams — Aquinas College, Cleary University, Concordia University Ann Arbor, Grand Canyon University, Indiana Tech, Lawrence Tech, Maryville University, McKendree University, Midland University, Northern Illinois University, and Waldorf University. The University of Arkansas is the only team to depart, dropping to the ACHA DII ranks.
Over the past 17 seasons, 12 different DI programs have won national titles — Lindenwood (three), Central Oklahoma (two), Illinois (two), Minot State (two), Adrian, Arizona State, Davenport, Delaware, Oakland, Ohio, Penn State, and Rhode Island.