Flames back on road for first ESCHL series at Rhode Island
October 9, 2019 | South Kingstown, R.I.
After a successful road trip to Alabama last weekend, Liberty University's ACHA Division I men's hockey team ascended two more rungs in the second national rankings this week, moving into a tie for fifth place with Iowa State. It is the Flames' highest peak in the polls since it appeared at No. 5 in last season's fourth ranking period on Oct. 24, 2018.
Liberty will begin a quest for its third consecutive Eastern States Collegiate Hockey League (ESCHL) regular-season title — and autobid to the ACHA DI National Championships set for March 19-24 near Dallas — with this weekend's series at Rhode Island. The 2012 ACHA DI national champion Rams have only defeated the Flames once since Liberty joined the ESCHL in 2016.
Scouting Preview, Games 6-7: No. 5 Liberty (5-0, 0-0 ESCHL) at No. 21 Rhode Island (3-1, 0-0 ESCHL), Friday (7 p.m.) and Saturday (4 p.m.) at Brad Boss Arena in South Kingstown, R.I. Both games will be webcast live on livebarn.com.
Liberty scouting report: Even with a short-handed attack due to injuries, playing without four of their 15 forwards, the Flames managed to produce an abundance of goals in their 6-0 and 8-3 wins to sweep Alabama last weekend in Pelham, Ala. Liberty features nine multiple-goal scorers and has now outscored its first three opponents by a combined margin of 41-6.
Sophomore forward Josh Fricks, who netted back-to-back hat tricks against Duquesne and IUP, paces the team with seven goals and 10 assists, followed closely by senior defenseman Garrett Nelson (4G, 10A). Senior forward Quinn Ryan (5G, 6A) and sophomore forward Arturas Laukaitis (4G, 6A) are also double-digit scorers in the Flames' explosive offense.
|Flames defenseman Jacob Fricks skates past the Rams.|
In goal, Liberty has effectively platooned first-year goalies Tyler Myers (2-0, 0.00 goals-against average, 100.0 save percentage, 2 shutouts) and Cédric Le Sieur (3-0, 2.00 GAA, 90.3 SP) behind a stellar defense anchored by seniors Jacob Fricks, Basil Reynolds, and Chaydan Lauber, who are complemented by freshmen Colin Baird and Dmytro Kobylyanskyi.
Rhode Island scouting report: Despite splitting a series at Buffalo last weekend and dropping one position in the polls, the Rams are one of five ESCHL teams ranked in the top 25 this week (Liberty, No. 13 Stony Brook, No. 18 Syracuse, and No. 25 Delaware, which makes its debut after a 5-0 start, are the others).
Chad Stone is Rhode Island's only multiple goal scorer with four goals and one assist through four games, while fellow forward Jake Salisbury is the team's point leader with one goal and five assists.
John Ketzenberger (3-1, 1.64 GAA, 92.9 SP) has played for all but 20 minutes between the pipes so far this season.
Coaches: Kirk Handy is in his 20th season as Liberty's head coach and has compiled an overall record of 437-180-29. Rhode Island is led by Joe Augustine, the only coach in the ESCHL with a longer tenure than Handy, and he has amassed a 642-308-64 mark in his 31st season at the helm.