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    April 21, 2022 Lynchburg, Va. RSS |

    Liberty University’s ACHA Division I men’s hockey team honored its standouts from the 2021-22 season at Wednesday night’s spring banquet, with as many underclassmen as upperclassmen receiving awards.

    Junior goalie Hunter Virostek was selected as the team’s Most Valuable Player after finishing 16-7-1 with a 2.35 goals-against average and a 92.6 save percentage. He posted one shutout and went 2-0 in shootouts.

    Sophomore Jason Foltz, Liberty’s leading scorer with 14 goals and 27 assists, was named the Forward of the Year while freshman forward Jacob Kalandyk earned Rookie of Year honors after netting 14 goals and distributing 13 assists. Senior head captain Colin Baird and graduate alternate captain Chaydan Lauber were tabbed the Co-Defensemen of the Year. Freshman defenseman Aleksandr Charin was designated the Most Improved Player on the team while sophomore forward DJ Schwenke received Hardest Worker accolades.

    The Flames (22-9-1) were ranked as high as No. 3 in the nation during the season, capped by the team’s 13th trip to the ACHA Division I National Championships since moving up from the Division II level in 2006.

    “Our goal is always to be one of the top programs in the ACHA at the Division I level,” Head Coach Kirk Handy said, noting that the team’s strength of schedule helped the team raise its overall level of competitiveness. “Being independent allows you to play the top opponents in the country … and we really felt that was a big part of our success. Having strong games week-in and week-out where our guys had to battle in a nationals-type of a setting … and learn how to be successful as a team throughout the season really does play big-time benefits for us.”

    Senior goalie Cédric Le Sieur said with 12 newcomers on a 26-man roster Liberty met many of its preseason goals, although the team didn’t advance as far at nationals as it would have liked.

    “The expectations around the league for us were a little low based on just the amount of new guys we were bringing in, but those guys stepped up and the senior class did a great job of integrating them into the team and I think that we surprised a lot of people with how far we got and how well we did,” he said.

    Associate Head Coach Jeff Boettger said the Flames grew tighter together as a team through the challenges along the way.

    “Enjoying the journey is a big part of who we are and what we emphasize,” he said. “To be competitive every moment of every day is ultimately the goal because that’s what prepares you to compete when it matters, like in the championship games or the run to nationals. It was fun to see that group come together and be a part of it.”

    The Flames will host their Liberty Hockey Select Camp for prospective players ages 18-27 from May 11-13 at the LaHaye Ice Center, with registration open online.

    Video edited by Kylee Ligle/Club Sports Video & Media Assistant