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    November 4, 2022 Lynchburg, Va. RSS |

    It’s been five years since Miami (Ohio) University’s reign of dominance in the ACHA Division I women’s hockey ranks, when it won three national titles in four seasons from 2014-17, with Liberty University’s DI women capturing its first crown in the middle of that run in 2015.

    In Friday afternoon’s series opener between the four-time-defending ACHA DI national champion Lady Flames (9-0, 4-0 ACHA) and visiting RedHawks (7-3-2), Liberty demonstrated how dramatically the balance of power has shifted in its favor, overwhelming Miami (Ohio), 12-1, at the LaHaye Ice Center behind a five-goal game from sophomore forward Brielle Fussy.

    “All the lines were rolling good and we just kept building on top of our goals,” sophomore forward Haley Battles said after the Lady Flames outshot their guests, 62-18. “Everyone was going. We had the energy up on the bench. That was good. That was the main thing. Everyone just comes in ready, even during practice, the energy is just so high, then when we come here, we are ready to go.”

    Graduate forward Danica Polson showed that the Lady Flames were dialed in, scoring their first goal on the first shot of the game, beating a RedHawks defenseman and then Miami goalie Maya Gonzalez on a short breakaway for a quick 1-0 edge. Later in the first period, Fussy doubled the advantage to 2-0 unassisted at the 1:48 mark on the first of her five goals.

    “We showed some real jump at times and special teams played a big role,” Liberty Head Coach Chris Lowes said, noting that the Lady Flames scored both on the power play and shorthanded. “Obviously, it was a big night for Brielle to get five. She may have had a hat trick last year, but never five in one game, and (junior linemate) Brityn (Fussy) had one goal and she set Brielle up on another.”

    Battles opened the second-period scoring by putting away a putback of shots by fellow sophomore forwards Isabella Hervert and Zosia Adamek with 17:07 to go.

    Shelby Bradford skates in front of sophomore defenseman Peyton Carle (79) and goalie Amanda Storey (29).

     

    Just 24 seconds later, graduate forward and head captain Shelby Bradford extended the Lady Flames’ lead to 4-0 at the 16:43 mark.

    Liberty junior goalie Amanda Storey made a chest save of a breakaway opportunity by a RedHawks forward through the right circle. Then, at the 4:01 mark, Priscilla Ziefle received a pass from Battles in the high slot and sneaked a shot through traffic off the stick of Brielle Fussy around Gonzalez and inside the right post.

    With 1:30 to go, junior forward Rianna Spanier took a pass from junior forward Brityn Fussy and stretched Liberty’s lead to 6-0 by maneuvering the puck around a RedHawks defenseman with a toe drag and unleashing a shot that glanced off Gonzalez’s stick behind her into the back of the net.

    Just 30 seconds into the third period, with the Lady Flames on the power play, graduate defenseman Aislyn Stretch widened Liberty’s lead to 7-0 by deflecting sophomore defenseman Madison Glynn’s shot from the high slot under the pads of Gonzalez.

    Then, at the 17:09 mark, Adamek set up a shot by Brielle Fussy that padded the Lady Flames’ advantage to 8-0 and gave her the hat trick. Twenty seconds into a Liberty power play, after Bradford was checked into the boards with an elbow to the head, Brityn Fussy received a pass from Adamek and unloaded a shot from the inside edge of the right circle that rung off the left post and into the back of the net with 16:41 remaining.

    Just over a minute later, with 15:25 to play, sophomore defenseman Sammy Peebles rifled an unassisted shot from the right point past Gonzalez for a commanding 10-0 advantage.

    Miami defenseman Laura Cogswell ended Storey’s shutout bid with a point-blank finish at the 6:14 mark, also snapping the Lady Flames’ five-game shutout streak.

    But Brielle Fussy answered with an uncontested, shorthanded shot from deep in the left circle less than a minute later, restoring the Lady Flames’ 10-goal cushion.

    “Even though we took a lot of penalties, we didn’t let the PK bring us down,” Battles said. “We just know not to let up, even when we’re down a player.”

    Finally, with 2:14 to go, Brielle Fussy, cutting through the left crease, deftly deflected Glynn’s high shot from the top of the left circle past Gonzalez into the lower left corner of the cage for the 12-1 final on her fifth and final score, completing her third-period hat trick.

    The victory extended the Lady Flames’ winning streak to 49 games and they will look to make it 50 in a row after Saturday’s 1:30 p.m. rematch at the LIC.

    “We want to keep going,” Battles said. “We kind of just take it one game at a time. We know that we can always be beaten, and whoever we’re playing, if they bring it, then we have to bring it just as hard because anything can happen. It’s always making sure we keep that energy and just keep going, do not let off of that gas, and that’s all we can do.”

    By Ted Allen/Staff Writer; Video by Patrick Strawn/Club Sports Director of Video & Media

    Sophomore forward Haley Battles (12) pursues the puck beside Brielle Fussy and senior defenseman Aislyn Stretch.