The Lady Flames D1 hockey team defeats UMass Amherst in weekend series 2-0

The Liberty women’s D1 hockey team continued its strong start to the season in a two-game sweep versus the UMass Minutewomen Oct. 20 and 21. Playing on home ice, the Lady Flames swept UMass, taking Friday’s game in an enforcing 5-0 fashion before treating the crowd to a 3-2 thrilling overtime victory in the Saturday series finale. 

Four Flames would score the five goals Liberty claimed in the series opener Friday night — junior forward Haley Battles, freshman forward Elisabeth Sarauer and graduate forward  Captain Rianna Spanier all netted one apiece, and Flames senior forward Brityn Fussy scored two to give her fifth and sixth goals on the season. Fussy started the scoring, finding the back of the net 10:20 into the first period on a lightning quick goal as she cut across the crease. Liberty dominated much of the first period with puck possession despite only netting one goal, placing the pressure on the UMass defenders.

Like much of the first 20 minutes of play, the Lady Flames continued their dominance on the offensive end in the second period, making it difficult for the Minutewomen to generate any sort of momentum in the Flames’ offensive zone. After a five-minute stalemate, Battles found the back of the net off a bouncing rebound with 15:08 gone by in the second period to put the Flames up 2-0 heading into the second intermission. 

In the final period of play, the rookie Sarauer lit the lamp just 24 seconds into play to extend the Flames’ lead to 3-0. For much of the final period, the score remained 3-0 until Spanier deflected a shot attempt from junior defenseman Madison Glynn into the net to make it 4-0. Fussy notched her second goal of the night on a rocket from behind the faceoff dot to extend  the Flames lead to 5-0 and put an exclamation point on the first game of the series.

The Flames returned to the ice on Saturday for the second contest of the series. Like the first game of the series, Fussy started the scoring with a first period goal to give her team an early lead. Late in the period, UMass finally broke through with its first goal of the series on a bar-down wrister from Shelby Little, tying the game at one apiece after the first period.

Midway through the second period, Fussy found the back of the net again for her fourth goal of the weekend, giving Liberty a 2-1 advantage. The Lady Flames held onto the lead until a third period goal from UMass netted by Joanna Dustin brought the game back to an even, nail-biting contest. Despite an increased intensity from both teams throughout the closing minutes, the game stayed tied at two at the end of regulation. 

The two teams battled for victory in the overtime period. With 1:33 remaining on the clock, Fussy sealed the series with a hat trick that served as the game-winner, lifting her team to victory. The goal was her fifth of the weekend and her ninth on the season, capping a thrilling series to complete the Liberty sweep and keep the Lady Flames undefeated on home ice this season. 

Fussy now leads the Flames in both goals and points this season, and places her firmly in third on the ACHA women’s D1 in goals this season, while playing two less games than the leaders who are tied for first with 11 goals. 

With another pair of victories under its belt, Liberty will be back in action Nov. 3 and 4 to meet an imposing 5-1 Adrian Bulldogs team in Michigan for a two-game series.

Almy is a sports reporter for the Liberty Champion

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