Flames Hockey Finishes 10th in Final ACHA Rankings
May 4, 2012 | Lynchburg, VA
The Liberty Flames hockey team finished the 2011-12 season ranked 10th in the American Collegiate Hockey Association(ACHA) final rankings, and though it wasn't the ending he had hoped for, Head Coach Kirk Handy is proud of his players for the growth they showed.
"Overall, bringing 11 new players, we were very happy with the steps we took as a program," Handy said.
The Flames lose four 4 seniors from this year's roster: Jake Hannon, Luke Aitken, Seth Jensen and Joe Smith, but Handy is excited for the five returning juniors, as well as the 14 underclassmen who he expects to be the bedrock of next year's squad.
Smith became the fifth Liberty hockey player (and second this year) to sign a professional contract when he accepted the offer to play for the Ronnang Lobsters of the Swedish Ice Hockey Federation over the weekend. Mike Morrison signed earlier this year with the Dunedin Thunder in the New Zealand Ice Hockey League. Smith and Morrison join current Liberty assistant coach Mike Binnie (2008) and former players Kevin Dykstra (2008) and Mike Lane (2011) as players who have signed contracts with professional teams.
Highlights of the season included a defeat of the then-No. 1 ranked team in the country, Penn State, at the LaHaye Ice Center, and taking three of four from Oakland, who finished as the national runner-up.
Sophomore Rick Turner finished as the leading goal scorer for Liberty with 34, while junior Brent Boschman led with 65 points (25 goals, 40 assists).
Both of Liberty's goalies, Blair Bennett and Clayton Brown, were underclassmen. Bennett finished as the leading goalie with 13 wins and a 3.18 Goals Against Average (GAA).
The Flames are already looking ahead to next year when they will face national champion Delaware and runner-up Oakland four times each in 2012-13 as well as top 10 finishers Arizona State (No. 9) and the Ohio University Bobcats (No. 5).
B.J. Williams, Staff Writer