Bringing the Mayhem: Liberty Men’s D1 Hockey Sweeps West Virginia
The No. 5 Liberty Division I men’s hockey team dominated the West Virginia Mountaineers 9-0 Dec. 3, netting its 14th win of the season during the Midnight Mayhem matchup at LaHaye Ice Center.
At 11:59 p.m., around 3,000 fans filled the arena for one of Liberty’s three midnight contests this season. Head coach Kirk Handy believes there is something special about Liberty’s midnight games.
“Our student body is fantastic,” Handy said. “There’s a great buzz. As you come to warm up, the arena is packed out, and a hit is tenfold the enthusiasm that we usually have. It was a great atmosphere.”
The game was one-sided as Liberty built a massive lead and maintained possession of the puck through the night. Power plays and penalty kills from Liberty plagued the Mountaineers as the Flames took advantage of almost every opportunity to put West Virginia away.
As the game began, the Flames quickly set the tone for the match, scoring a power-play goal to get things going. Liberty would score once again in the first period, and after a couple power plays for both teams, the first period closed with Liberty in the lead 2-0.
In the second period, Liberty continued to build its lead and defend its net from all shot attempts by West Virginia. After a couple small altercations between the two teams on the ice, Liberty slapped the puck into the Mountaineers’ net three more times.
Throughout the third period, West Virginia’s offensive and defensive games continued to struggle. Liberty scored within two minutes of the period, and the Mountaineers failed to gain possession before the Flames would score again less than a minute later. At the end of the third period, Liberty scored four more goals and shutout West Virginia with a final score of 9-0.
Jacob Kalandyk, a freshman who recorded his first career hat trick as a Flame, was pleased to get the shutout.
“Our defensive game really stepped up this week,” Kalandyk said. “We had a really good D-corps today, and our offense was doing really well keeping the puck in, so we didn’t really give them too much opportunity there.”
The team was able to replicate its success in a rematch against the Mountaineers Dec. 4, netting a dominant 10-0 victory to complete the weekend sweep in a powerful offensive showing. The Flames are 15-0 all time against West Virginia. With two wins on the weekend, Liberty improves to 15-4 on the season.
The Flames now have one final Midnight Mayhem game left against the University of Nevada-Las Vegas in January 2022. In the team’s meeting with UNLV earlier this season, Liberty lost in the final of the Chicago Classic.
Satterthwaite is a sports reporter.