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    July 28, 2022 Lynchburg, Va. RSS |

    An extremely competitive and balanced schedule with 13 home games at the LaHaye Ice Center and 15 away contests awaits Liberty University’s four-time-defending ACHA Division I National Championship women’s hockey team.

    The Lady Flames will play 23 games against ACHA Division I opponents, three home exhibition matchups — starting Sept. 24 against the Washington Pride and Sept. 30-Oct. 1 against the Ontario-based Hockey Training Institute — and two against NCAA Division III programs in Pennsylvania, at Neumann University in Aston, Pa. on Oct. 22, and Chatham University in Pittsburgh on Oct. 23.

    “Traveling to Chatham is a new opportunity and chance to see different players, different rinks, with a little crossover,” Liberty sixth-year Head Coach Chris Lowes said.

    That regular-season schedule should make the Lady Flames — who are riding a 40-game winning streak — battle-tested to contend for their fourth consecutive Women’s Midwest College Hockey (WMCH) tournament championships, Feb. 24-26 in St. Louis, and fifth straight national crown, March 16-21 in Marlborough, Mass., near Boston.

    “We try to play the best teams in the ACHA every year,” Lowes said, noting that Liberty will play regular-season games against all WMCH foes except Minnesota, Midland, and Jamestown. “One of our goals is to have the toughest schedule when comes to the computer rankings, and I think we’ll accomplish that again this year. We are renewing a lot of great rivalries with teams like Adrian and Lindenwood, as well as UMass, Indiana Tech, and Minot State.”

    Liberty is especially anticipating its three-game home series Jan. 26-28 against Minot, a team it has only played at a neutral site, in St. Louis, though it won the 2021 ACHA DI title on its home ice.

    “We are excited because we have only faced (the Beavers) in our conference playoffs the first two years,” Lowes said. “I’ve always thought Minot would grow to be a good rival for us, and it is important for us to grow those matchups. We will play them three times in one weekend, which is a good chance to host another really powerful team, and conference opponent in a series that will be really important in how it impacts our rankings and where we are sitting at the end of the year.”

    The Lady Flames will fly to Arizona for the first time to face Arizona State University in its new rink on Dec. 2-3, its last series of the fall semester.

    “That should be something the girls will enjoy,” Lowes said. “ASU is going to be a strong team this year, and I would anticipate seeing them in the top 10 (ACHA DI rankings) again after ranging between 8 and 12 the last two or three years.”

    Following the lead of Liberty’s ACHA DI men’s hockey team, the Lady Flames will travel to Finland over Christmas Break, and return before opening the Spring 2023 semester with a Jan. 19-21 trip to the St. Louis area to play Maryville (Mo.), McKendree (Ill.), and Lindenwood (Mo.).

    “The season’s going to be a long one when you add in that 8- to 10-day trip, but it will be a really neat year with different experiences, highlighted by the first international trip for our team,” Lowes said. “We are quite happy with how things shook out.”

    There is a potential for four of Liberty’s five hockey teams to assemble in the Boston area for the 2023 ACHA National Championships, which will hold its DI and II women’s and DI, II, and III men’s tournaments simultaneously this season as the New England Sports Center is a two-story, eight-rink facility.

    “This past season, we were the last team playing for a national title in St. Louis,” Lowes said of the Lady Flames’ March 18-20 run to their fifth title. “This year, hopefully we will be playing concurrently with (Liberty’s) Division I men’s team and the Division II men’s and women’s teams, so we can progress through the tournament together and support one another.”

    Liberty will take the ice for its first skate session on Aug. 21, the day before the first day of classes of the Fall semester, before holding a skate clinic as it did last preseason.

    DI women’s hockey 2022-23 schedule

    Sept. 24 Washington Pride U-19 travel team (exhibition), 1:30 p.m.

    Sept. 30 Hockey Training Institute (Ontario, exhibition), 2:30 p.m.

    Oct. 1 Hockey Training Institute, 11:30 a.m.

    Oct. 6 at University of Rhode Island (South Kingston, R.I.), 7 p.m.

    Oct. 7-8 at University of Massachusetts (Amherst, Mass.), TBA

    Oct. 22 at Neumann University (Aston, Pa.), 7 p.m.

    Oct. 23 at Chatham University (New Kensington, Pa.), 2 p.m.

    Oct. 28-29 Indiana Tech, 2:30 p.m., 1:30 p.m.

    Nov. 4-5 Miami University Ohio, 2:30 p.m., 1:30 p.m.

    Nov. 11-12 at Adrian College (Mich.), 3 p.m., noon

    Nov. 18-19 Maryville (Mo.) University, 7 p.m., 7 p.m.

    Dec. 2-3 at Arizona State University (Tempe, Ariz.), TBA

    Jan. 19 at Maryville (Mo.) University, TBD

    Jan. 20 at McKendree (Ill.) University, 2:30 p.m.

    Jan. 21 at Lindenwood (Mo.) University, TBD

    Jan. 26-28 Minot State, 9 p.m., 7:30 p.m., 7:30 p.m.

    Feb. 9-10 at Indiana Tech (Fort Wayne, Ind.), 4:30 p.m., TBD

    Feb. 11 at Miami University (Oxford, Ohio), TBD

    Feb. 17-18 Adrian (Mich.) College, 2:30 p.m., 1:30 p.m.

    Feb. 24-26 at Women’s Midwest College Hockey Playoffs (St. Louis), TBD

    March 16-21 ACHA National Championships at the New England Sports Center (NESC) in Marlborough, Mass.