Full Club Sports Schedule

    Team News

    February 23, 2023 Lynchburg, Va. RSS |

    When Liberty University’s ACHA Division I men’s hockey team hosts Minot State, the No. 1 team in the nation for the 10th ranking in a row, it will be an excellent opportunity to test the Flames’ mettle and sharpen its blades and sticks for the March 16-21 ACHA DI National Championships in Marlborough, Mass.

    “It’s huge for us that we’re facing the No. 1 team and kind of end the season on a high note,” Flames junior forward Kam Ottenbreit said. “It’s kind of the best opportunity that you could ask for going into nationals, coming out hot and having high intensity right away instead of playing a team that you’re going to beat by a lot of goals. It’s going to be a gritty game and that’s how nationals is going to be, so this weekend is big for our preparation.”

    The Flames, who feature one of the strongest schedules of any team in the nation, will honor eight players as well as equipment manager Christian Conroy on Saturday’s Senior Night: senior goalies Hunter Virostek and Cédric Le Sieur; graduate head captain Colin Baird and fellow defensemen Tom Nagle and Luke Heimann; and alternate captain Matt Bartel and fellow senior forwards Brett Gammer and Josh Fricks, who is rehabilitating from a spinal cord injury at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta.

    Scouting Preview for Games 28-29:  No. 1 Minot State (28-2) at No. 6 Liberty (15-11-1), Friday at 10 p.m. and Saturday at 7 p.m. at the LaHaye Ice Center. Both games will be streamed live on ESPN+. Listen to the latest Rock The Rink podcast looking back at last week’s action and ahead to this weekend’s series on Spotify or Apple.

    All-Time Series: The Beavers hold a 14-2 advantage after winning all four meetings with the Flames last season and both in October in Minot, N.D. Liberty hasn’t defeated Minot State since a 2014-15 regular-season-ending home sweep at the LIC, snapping the then-No. 3 Beavers’ 18-game winning streak. The Beavers started their current 11-game run of success against the Flames by beginning and ending Liberty’s 2015-16 season with home and away sweeps in Minot and Lynchburg, respectively. The Flames lost to Minot, 3-1, in the ACHA DI National Championship semifinals in St. Louis in April 2021.

    “There’s a lot of history between us,” Liberty junior forward DJ Schwenke said. “We’re ready for some redemption.”

    Junior forward Jacob Kalandyk leads the Flames in scoring with 15 goals and 15 assists.

    Liberty Scouting Report: After getting goals from its top two scorers, Jason Foltz (14 goals, 3 game-winners, 13 assists) and Jacob Kalandyk (15G, including his first game-winner, 15A), in a dramatic 3-2 series-opening win over Ohio last Friday night, the Flames couldn’t complete the sweep in Saturday’s rematch, falling 4-2 despite a spectacular first goal by spring semester defensive addition Reid Bogenholm and a score by Schwenke off a deflection. Liberty lost junior forward Kris Bladen to an injury in that contest and his status for this weekend’s series is questionable.

    The Flames have received supplementary scoring from senior forwards Jackson Vercellono (10G, 15A) and Bartel (9G, 11A) and freshman defenseman Laz Kaebel (7G, 15A) and Baird (2G, 19A).

    In goal, Virostek (11-6-1, 2.92 goals-against average, 92.1 save percentage, 2 shutouts) has played the majority of minutes with primary backup from Le Sieur (4-1, 1.85 GAA, 93.7 SP).

    Minot State Scouting Report: The Beavers have been one of the premiere programs in the nation over the past decade, making 10 consecutive ACHA DI National Championship quarterfinal appearances and five “Frozen Fours,” including hoisting two Murdoch Cup trophies. They were upset by No. 18 Ohio in the first round of last year’s nationals and the Bobcats dealt the Beavers their second setback this season on Feb. 3 after the University of Mary defeated them first on Dec. 3.

    Offensively, Minot features 10 forwards with 20 points or more, paced by Carter Bailey (18G, 35A) and Joey Moffett (19G, 26A), who have both netted four game-winning goals.

    Between the pipes, the Beavers rely on Jake Anthony (19-2, 1.58 GAA, 93.3 SP, 4 SO) to dam up their net with backup support from Riley Wallace (7-0, 1.74 GAA, 91.1 SP).

    Coaches: Kirk Handy is in his 23rd season at the helm of the Flames, having guided them to six consecutive ACHA DI National Championships appearances and posted a career record of 513-210-30. Wyatt Waselenchuk, Minot State’s first ACHA Division I Player of the Year in 2013 after leading the Beavers to their first of two national championships, is 59-5 in his second season at the helm. He served as assistant coach over the previous five seasons, including 2018-19, when Minot claimed its second national title.

    By Ted Allen/Staff Writer

    Junior forward Truett Olson is tied with second-leading scorer Jason Foltz with three game-winning goals.