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    June 14, 2022 Lynchburg, Va. RSS |

    Rising junior forward Jason Foltz’s stealthy maneuver and phenomenal finish in Liberty University’s ACHA Division I men’s hockey’s 7-4 come-from-behind victory over UNLV on Jan. 28 at the LaHaye Ice Center was voted as the inaugural winner of TheHockeyHouse “Goal of the Year.”

    Foltz enjoyed a breakout season for the Flames to finish as their leading scorer with 14 goals and 27 assists.

    “I give all the credit to my teammates,” he said. “I surprised myself this past year and I didn’t think I’d be playing on the first line. It was nice to have guys like Bartel and (forward Josh) Fricks always putting the puck on my stick whenever I was open. Without them, I don’t think I would have had the year that I had.”

    Foltz was one of three Liberty players with two goals in that UNLV contest, along with linemate Matt Bartel and Kam Ottenbreit. But Foltz’s goal, the final of the game scored late in the third period, was the icing on the cake. He skated the puck around Rebels defensemen though the left circle and deftly tucked the puck behind his back, between his legs, and off his left skate before lifting a sharp-angled backhanded shot over the shoulder of UNLV goalie Vince Benedetto into the top-right corner of the cage.

    “That was our seventh goal of the game, and it was toward the end of my shift, so I thought, ‘Let’s try something crazy here,’” Foltz said. “I always try a similar move in practice, usually not through my legs, but with a backhand toe drag.”

    The contest winners were selected through online voting among 16 finalists from the ACHA and College Hockey Federation (CHF), which Liberty’s Division III men’s team competes in.

    In head-to-head bracket competition, the LFSN-shot video of Foltz’s goal advanced through the round of 16 to the quarterfinals and onto the semifinals, where his score beat out another between-the-legs goal by Michigan-Dearborn’s Brendan West to advance to the final. There, Foltz’s goal won 75 percent of the vote to defeat a behind-the-net wraparound by IUP’s Jace Rearic.

    “The guys that run that (HockeyHouse) podcast previously played in the ACHA, and the goals were voted on by fans, so there was no bias in that,” said Foltz, who admitted he voted for himself and had help from his family and teammates. “My parents were crazy excited about it and were sharing the link with everybody, and I got a lot of help from the guys on the team, and our (Club Sports) social media as well.”

    The win against UNLV, which ended its 16-game winning streak, was the Flames’ only one in four meetings last season. UNLV won the ensuing “Midnight Mayhem” matchup the following night after also prevailing in the teams’ first-ever encounter, in the Nov. 21 championship game of the “Chicago Classic.” The Rebels eventually eliminated Liberty in the quarterfinal round of the ACHA DI National Championships in St. Louis on March 13.

    In that contest, Foltz only played one period before suffering a game-ending Grade-2 ankle sprain 20 seconds into the second, when he was sandwiched between two Rebels and boarded right in front of the Flames’ bench.

    After spending the past three months rehabilitating from that injury, Foltz is looking forward to traveling to Las Vegas for a two-game series at UNLV on Nov. 18-19, after challenging NCAA Division I Alaska Anchorage there on Nov. 17.

    “That’s one of those teams you hate to play against, because they’re big guys … and they like to be a tough, physical team,” Foltz said. “But I am so fired up to go and play them there. It’s going to be fun, to see how we respond on their home ice.”

    He is also excited about challenging another NCAA DI opponent, as the Flames did his freshman year, splitting a home series against Long Island in its first season playing at that level.

    “It is better for us to learn from playing those types of teams (Alaska Anchorage) because we have all dreamed of playing NCAA Division I hockey,” Foltz said.

    The Flames will later welcome the Rebels back to the LIC on Jan. 20-21, with the second game again the season’s third and final “Midnight Mayhem” contest.

    “Looking at our schedule, we can’t get lazy or play down to any opponent,” Foltz said. “We have to play at our level every night, and facing teams like Minot State and Michigan-Dearborn and Adrian and UNLV, we’ve got to be ready to go at puck drop.”

    By Ted Allen/Staff Writer