DIII Flames traveling to Alabama for South Region tourney
March 7, 2019 | Lynchburg, Va.
Liberty University's ACHA Division III men's hockey team will face No. 5 Mississippi Saturday in the South Region playoffs at the Benton Wilcoxon Municipal Ice Complex in Huntsville, Ala.
"We're really excited," Flames Head Coach Jared Smith said. Liberty is seeded eighth in its third South Region playoff appearance as a program. "Ole Miss will be a good test for us. They're having a really good year. The guys are pumped about it."
Liberty (14-5-2) split its last series against the Rebels (19-2-2), Jan. 28-29, 2017, in Oxford, Miss., losing opener, 2-0, before winning the rematch, 11-0. The Flames were swept by Ole Miss on Jan. 30-31, 2015, at the LaHaye Ice Center.
"Regionals is so open just because it's single elimination and pretty unpredictable," Smith said. "You don't have to be the best team, you've just got to play two good games. Anyone can win on any given day."
Liberty opens first-round play at 2 p.m. (CST) on Saturday, ahead of games between No. 6 Central Florida (9-12-3) and No. 7 Georgia Tech (13-7-4) at 4:30 p.m., No. 3 Tampa (19-8-4) and No. 10 South Carolina (10-8-1) at 6 p.m., and No. 4 Kennesaw State (18-7-4) and No. 9 Miami (Ohio, 10-15-1) at 8:20 p.m. (CST).
The tournament will be reseeded after the first round, with the two second-round winners advancing to the March 26-30 ACHA DIII National Championships in Frisco, Texas.
The Flames sent sophomore defenseman Alex Norwinski up to the DII team for the postseason, but should have two others, freshmen JD George and Maxx Mitchell, back from injury to anchor the defense in front of their three-goalie rotation of senior Derek Guzik, junior Clayton Pierce, and sophomore Micah Hauke.
"We've tried to keep lines as consistent as possible because they have a lot of chemistry by now," Jared Smith said. "Our seniors are guys who have gone to the regional playoffs before so we are leaning on them and their experience. The key will be putting our nerves aside and playing a good style of hockey with discipline. Every minute of every shift matters."