Flames ranked 15th in ACHA Division I men's preseason poll
September 7, 2017 | Lynchburg, Va.
Liberty University's ACHA Division I men's hockey team debuted at No. 15 in the Preseason Rankings, released on Thursday.
The Flames ended last season ranked No. 17 after winning 10 straight games heading into the ACHA Division I National Championships in Columbus, Ohio, where they were eliminated by Colorado State in the first round.
Five of the eight teams in the Eastern States Collegiate Hockey League (ESCHL) are featured in the top 25, capped by ESCHL newcomer Syracuse, which made the ACHA DI National Championships last season. Stony Brook, which Liberty dethroned in last year's ESCHL championship game after the Seawolves had captured the previous four tournament titles, is the conference's highest ranked team at No. 9. New York University, another addition to the league after it defeated Liberty's DII squad in last season's ACHA DII national championship game for its second title in three seasons, received the most votes of the 35 teams left out of the top 25. Alabama, the team the Flames host in their season-opening series next Friday and Saturday in the LaHaye Ice Center, earned the sixth-most votes among those not on the list, giving it an unofficial No. 31 ranking.
Central Oklahoma, the defending ACHA DI national champions, received 29 out of 35 first-places votes to enter the season at the No. 1 spot in the poll. The two-time champion Broncos are followed by four-time champion Ohio, Minot State, Adrian, and Iowa State, which rounds out the top five.
The ACHA has had 13 Division I national champions in 26 seasons and the Flames are looking to become the third ESCHL team to capture the crown, repeating the feat of No. 19 Delaware in 2012 and No. 23 Rhode Island in 2006.
The first regular-season ranking will be released on Sept. 20 before computer rankings start in late October. For the fifth year, they will determine the 20 teams that make the cut for the March 8-13 ACHA DI National Championships in Columbus. That field will include autobids awarded to the ESCHL, College Hockey Mid-America, Eastern Collegiate Hockey Association, Great Lakes Collegiate Hockey League, Northeast Collegiate Hockey League, and Western Collegiate Hockey League tournament champions.