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    April 21, 2022 Lynchburg, Va. RSS |

    Liberty University’s ACHA Division II men’s hockey senior defenseman Maxx Mitchell earned first-team honors and senior goalie Dakota Cyhaniuk received second-team recognition in the ACHA DII National All-Athletic Awards, announced last week.

    They helped lead the Flames to a 26-8 record, a No. 3 national ranking, and eighth ACHA DII National Championships tournament bid in the past nine seasons.

    “They’re both super well-deserved honors,” Liberty fifth-year Head Coach Ben Hughes said. “Those guys come to the rink every day and try to get better and they are both the ultimate competitors on the ice in games.”

    He said Mitchell averaged 30 minutes of ice time per game and was responsible for shutting down opposing teams’ top players every night.

    “To stay out there the whole time, and to have the success that he’s had, and we had as a team, playing against the best players in the country every day, his competitive level is super high,” Hughes said. “He was a big-time player and he played injured for a large part of the season, which is a huge testament to his grit. He was one of the best in the league at blocking shots, whether with his body or with the stick.”

    With no previous captaincy experience, Mitchell served as the Flames’ head captain his senior season.

    “As our captain, he was leading the way on the ice and in the locker room, by example, and really grew as a leader,” Hughes said. “That pushed him outside of his comfort zone in a good way.”

    Cyhaniuk, who will graduate with a B.S. in Aeronautics, helped Liberty reach new heights on the ice.

    “My hat goes off to him for all the time and effort he put into that, knowing it isn’t easy,” Hughes said. “His future is flying in the aviation industry, and I am excited for him. That is a huge commitment to be able to do aviation and hockey.”

    “I can’t say enough about Dakota and his compete level,” Hughes said. “He was an unbelievable person for us in the locker room and what I learned about Dakota this year was … how hard he competes is a direct reflection of how much he loves and wants to honor his teammates.”

    “His sophomore year was a very hard year for him personally, as he went through the tragedy of losing a close friend, so for him to come out of that and win the (ACHA DII) Goalie of the Year honor the next year was incredible,” he added.

    This year, Cyhaniuk was awarded second-team recognition behind only the defending ACHA DII national champion University of Mary’s Kyle Hayden.

    “Kyle and Dakota are really good competitors back and forth, which was fun to see,” Hughes said. “This year, Dakota battled back from a serious injury, so to see his accomplishments with no shortage of adversity, I am really proud of him. Dakota has a unique type of perseverance where he does not let a lot of things faze him, good or bad. He does a good job of staying even-keeled.”

    Even when things went awry on the ice, Cyhaniuk kept the Flames in contention with his steadiness between the pipes.

    “He’s won so many games for us, when maybe the team didn’t show up and we didn’t deserve to win, but he stood on his head against the best teams in the country,” Hughes said.