DI Lady Flames refreshed to restart season Friday vs. UMass
January 9, 2019 | Lynchburg, Va.
Liberty University's ACHA Division I women's hockey team (17-1-2, the No. 2 team in the latest ACHA Division I rankings released Dec. 11) closed out 2018 on a nine-game winning streak after sustaining its only loss and second tie of the season Oct. 26-27 at top-ranked Adrian College.
"It was good for them, mentally and physically, to get that break, to go home and spend time with their families," Head Coach Chris Lowes said of the Lady Flames' month-long Christmas break. "Many of them skated very little as they recharged their batteries and healed up, to get that energy and excitement back."
As they prepare for this weekend's series against No. 9 Massachusetts, Friday at 6:30 p.m. and Saturday at 4:30 p.m. in the LaHaye Ice Center, Lowes has challenged the Lady Flames to raise their conditioning levels and refocus on the regular season's final seven-week stretch by scheduling two-a-day practice sessions Monday through Thursday.
"The extra ice time this week has been a good thing," Lowes said.
The series against UMass will be the first of 10 games to help the reigning ACHA Division I national champions refine their game for the postseason. Liberty traveled to the Oct. 12-14 UMass Showcase, but didn't face the home team in that event. The Lady Flames are 7-4-1 against Minutewomen over the past five seasons.
"It will be a good matchup — a great opportunity for them to climb the rankings and for us to kick off the semester," Lowes said. "We've got an awesome semester ahead of us, playing Miami (Ohio, the 2014, '16, '17 ACHA DI national champions, Jan. 18-19) on the road, and Bishops University (Jan. 26-27) and Adrian (Feb. 16-17) at home. I really love the toughness of our schedule, which will force us to get better and be peaking toward the postseason."
Liberty has had six players score more than 20 points this season, paced by senior forward Lauren McDonald (11 goals, 19 assists) and sophomore forwards Danica Polson (15G, 11A) and Shannon Fehr (14G, 11A), with an even dozen totaling 10 or more.
"Our identity this year has been offensive depth and strength," Lowes said. "We were super offensive last year, but we have even more scoring threats this season."
The Lady Flames are still without injured freshman defenseman Danielle Bergen but have sophomore Kristi Serafin and senior Katie Comeau back from injury and Lowes dropped freshman Aislyn Stretch and junior Deena Birney back from forward to defense to complement graduate C.J. Tipping, juniors Emily John and Dana McLeod, and sophomore Sydney Pierce.