Flames host Rams for Friday night's annual Teddy Bear Toss
January 30, 2020 | Lynchburg, Va.
The LaHaye Ice Center will be transformed into a menagerie on ice when Liberty University's ACHA Division I men's hockey team scores its first goal in Friday night's ESCHL series opener against Rhode Island.
The Flames are hosting their ninth annual Teddy Bear Toss in support of Gleaning For The World's Teddy Bear Brigade. Every year, the ministry based in nearby Concord, Va., sends an average of 35,000 stuffed animals to provide comfort to needy children across the United States and around the world, with as many as 500 coming from Liberty Hockey fans. Those who bring a new or gently used bear or other stuffed animal to throw onto the ice at the appropriate time will be admitted for $2.
Liberty will look to continue its run of success against the Rams, who were ACHA DI national champions in 2012 but have only beaten the Flames once — last season in overtime — since Liberty joined the ESCHL in 2016.
The Flames remained at No. 2 in this week's ACHA Division I national rankings after splitting this past weekend's series at ESCHL rival Stony Brook, which slipped one spot to No. 7. After allowing three power-play goals in Saturday's 4-3 opening loss, Liberty stepped up its special teams play in Sunday's rematch, killing four of five penalties and scoring two power-play goals in a 7-2 triumph.
Scouting Preview, Games 26-27: Rhode Island (14-12-1, 5-9 ESCHL) at No. 2 Liberty (21-4, 12-2 ESCHL), Friday (7 p.m.) and Saturday (7 p.m.) at the LaHaye Ice Center. Both games webcast live by LFSN and carried on ESPN+.
|Junior forward Cole Gammer shares a lighter moment with a Rhode Island player in last season's first meeting.|
Liberty scouting report: The Flames had their power play firing on all cylinders in their first meeting at Rhode Island in October, scoring four times on the man-advantage in the opener. That included a three-goal flurry in less than a minute of a five-minute major that catapulted Liberty to a 5-1 second-period lead.
On the season, Liberty has converted on 26.8 percent of its power-play opportunities while completing penalty kills against its opponents 80.7 percent of the time.
Sophomore forward Arturas Laukaitis (13 goals, 20 assists) and senior forward Brock Thompson (14G, 11A) lead the Flames with five power-play goals each while senior forward Quinn Ryan (16G, 29A) and sophomore forward Josh Fricks (20G, 21A), Liberty's top two scorers, have netted three power-play goals apiece. Fricks, who missed the trip to Stony Brook while serving a suspension for a fight late in the second game against Delaware on Jan. 18, is one of four Flames with three game-winning goals, along with junior forwards Jordan Bochinski (13G, 25A) and Cole Gammer (12G, 12A) and senior defenseman Garrett Nelson (7G, 22A).
Liberty debuted a third goalie in Saturday's opener at Stony Brook, freshman Hunter Virostek (0-1, 4.00 goals-against average, 90.9 save percentage), a spring semester transfer who complements fall newcomers Cédric Le Sieur (11-1, 2.10 GAA, 90.7 SP), a freshman, and sophomore Tyler Myers (10-2, 2.30 GAA, 90.0 SP, two shutouts).
Rhode Island scouting report: The Rams have split their past four ESCHL series since being swept Nov. 22-23 at Delaware.
Jake Salisbury is the team's leading scorer with 14 goals, including three game-winners, and 17 assists. He is followed by fellow forwards Griffin Long (7G, 19A), Patrick Creamer (12G, 7A), and Nick Ferraro (10G, 9A).
John Ketzenberger (11-10, 2.74 GAA, 91.4 SP) has logged the majority of minutes between the pipes this season for the Rams with backup support from Daniel DeSilva (4-3, 4.67 GAA, 88.1SP).
Coaches: Kirk Handy is in his 20th season as Liberty's head coach and has compiled an overall record of 453-184-29. Rhode Island is led by Joe Augustine who has amassed a 653-319-65 mark in his 31st season at the helm.