Four hockey teams skate to ACHA Nationals in Columbus
The 2018 ACHA National Championships, which open Thursday and run through March 18 at various rinks around Columbus, Ohio, will be a monumental tournament for the Liberty University men’s and women’s hockey programs.
After becoming the first school in the country to offer teams at all five levels of the ACHA — Division I, II, and III men and Division I and II women — Liberty will send a record four of its five squads to nationals.
Liberty DI men’s Head Coach Kirk Handy, who also serves as Club Sports Athletic Director, said the tournament will be a unifying time for the four squads, especially with the entire event being played in the same city for the second year in a row.
“We’re all going to one place, and the teams will get to watch each other’s games, which is really exciting,” he said.
All games will be webcast live on YouTube by the ACHA.
The Division I men’s team (30-6), seeded 10th and coming off a second-straight ESCHL Tournament championship, is riding a program-record 19-game winning streak. Liberty will receive a first-round bye and meet seventh-seeded defending ACHA DI national champion Central Oklahoma on Saturday at 5 p.m.
The Division I Lady Flames (25-3), which became the first Liberty team to claim a national championship in 2015, have made the ACHA DI Final Four in the past five national tournaments. Ranked first in the nation for all but one poll this season, the team will open with a best-of-three quarterfinal rematch against No. 8 Minnesota on March 14. The team also enjoyed a record 19-game run of success this season.
Liberty’s DII women (12-3-1) qualified for the College Hockey East (CHE) playoffs and ACHA DII nationals for the first time this year and will open against Boston College on March 14 before facing Minot State and CHE champion Buffalo in pool play on March 15 and 16.
After earning autobids to nationals the past two seasons, Liberty’s DII men’s team won both of its games at the Southeast Region tournament to advance to nationals for a fifth year in a row. The Flames must win their pool this Friday through Sunday to reach Monday’s Final Four.
More than half of the Flames and Lady Flames 41 Club Sports teams will send student-athletes to national events in the coming months, starting with this week’s ski & snowboard USCSA National Championships in Lake Placid, N.Y., and NCWA men’s and women’s wrestling Grand National Championships in Allen, Texas. The racquetball and shooting teams are also headed for nationals this month. In April, the men’s swimming & diving, Taekwondo, disc golf, men’s volleyball, gymnastics, paintball, and triathlon teams will compete at the national level. In early May, riders from the cycling and Western and Hunt Seat equestrian teams will compete at nationals in Colorado and Pennsylvania, respectively. The men’s lacrosse team can earn an autobid to the May 7-12 MCLA DI National Championships in Salt Lake City for the first time by winning the April 20-22 SELC Tournament in Atlanta.
Members of the Flames archery team have already returned to campus with national bowhunting outdoor team and indoor individual titles in Illinois and Las Vegas, respectively. The synchronized skating team placed ninth in its first time competing in the Collegiate Division at the U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships in Portland, Ore.