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The final buzzer sounds and several members of the hockey team take a victory lap around the ice in celebration of a close win. The crowd in the packed LaHaye Ice Center roars with excitement.
Andrew McCombe, captain of the Liberty University’s men’s Division I (D1) hockey team, knows this scene well.
As a senior, McCombe has led his team as an assistant captain for two years and is entering his second season as head captain. McCombe is looking forward to the season.
“We want to win the national championship,” McCombe said. “Anything less than that would not honestly convey our ultimate goal.”
The team suffered an early end to last season’s playoff run but hopes to bring a more leadership-centered approach to this season.
Before he was a Flame, McCombe grew up in the town of London, Ontario, where he learned how to play hockey at the age of four.
“I went on to play junior league hockey for four years with the Strathroy (Ontario) Rockets before coming to Liberty to attend college and play on the Division 1 level,” McCombe said.
According to him, he first heard about Liberty through the Liberty women’s hockey coach, who lived near him in Ontario at the time.
“I knew that I wanted to come down to Liberty and play hockey at a Christian school,” McCombe said.
It was also at Liberty that McCombe met his wife, Stacey Christiaans, who captained the women’s D1 team for two years.
“Definitely my most favorite memory here at Liberty, besides knocking out Ohio in the playoffs, was meeting my beautiful wife Stacey,” McCombe said.
McCombe believes his greatest strength is being both an offensive and defensive player.
“Being the captain, the guys on the team really look to you,” McCombe said. “I wouldn’t say that I am a very vocal leader. I’m more of a believer in lead by example.”
Upon receiving his degree in kinesiology in December, McCombe will spend the spring semester student-teaching in the Lynchburg area.
“I would love to go play (professional) hockey in Europe if the opportunity presented itself, but if not, then my wife and I will definitely be moving back to Canada,” McCombe said.
McCombe and the Flames begin their season at home against the Hampton Whalers Friday, Sept. 13 at 7 p.m.