Full Club Sports Schedule

    Team News

    January 27, 2023 Lynchburg, Va. RSS |

    Freshman goalie Alex Keith posted her fourth shutout of the season and lowered her goals-against average to an even 1.00 to help Liberty University’s top-ranked, four-time defending ACHA Division I National Champion women’s hockey team improve to 4-0 all-time against No. 3 Minot State with a 4-0 triumph, Friday night at the LaHaye Ice Center.

    The Lady Flames (20-0-1) outshot the Beavers (13-7-2) by a 46-24 margin and Keith made 24 saves to improve to 6-0-1.

    “Alex made some big saves in the first period, especially, and just looked super confident back there,” Liberty Head Coach Chris Lowes said. “She just looked like she was on.”

    In the opening minute of the third period, with the Lady Flames up 2-0, Keith saved a high backhander by Beavers leading scorer Jordan Kulbida on a dangerous breakaway. Keith smothered a 2-on-2 opportunity in front at the 16:01 mark before preventing Kulbida’s short-ranged shot from the right crease from sneaking through the five-hole.

    “(Keith) played an awesome game, controlled the rebounds very, very well,” said junior forward Rianna Spanier, who netted two of Liberty’s four goals to move into a tie with junior forward and alternate captain Brityn Fussy for second place in scoring behind sophomore forward Haley Battles (21 points) with her 19th and 20th points of the season. “I have to give it all to my linemates. Haley and (senior forward) Linzy (Jedrezjek) have been a really big part of that and I’m super happy to be battling with them. It’s been a great year with the team, and everyone is generating (offense).”

    Spanier netted a hat trick in the Liberty’s 9-1 rout of Lindenwood near St. Louis on the night after the Lady Flames had their ACHA-record 57-game winning streak snapped last Friday at McKendree (Ill.) University.

    “That loss made us take a step back, but we’re ready to go and we’re fired up,” she said. “The game today brought out a lot more speed, a lot more grit.”

    “It was a good team win today,” Lowes added. “That is a good team over there and we did things to frustrate them. They had some moments and some pushback, especially in the second, and I just kind of liked our answer. They had a few shifts, especially in the second, where they were really dangerous and we got kind of trapped in our zone, but we took a breath and found a way and we’re doing a better job of (clearing the puck) defensively.”

    Just 2:31 after the opening faceoff, the Lady Flames seized a 1-0 lead when Spanier received a pass from Battles in the right circle and fired a sharp-angled shot through a screen set by Battles inside the right post — past Beavers’ goalie Jordan Ivanco.

    “Ri (Spanier) continues to be such an important piece for us,” Lowes said. “She plays in every situation. As coaches, we really trust her on both ends of the ice and it’s so great to see her get rewarded offensively. She’s playing with a confidence right now and she looks like a sniper. She’s making the most of her chances, putting herself in really good spots.”

    With 6:52 left in the second stanza, Liberty graduate forward and head captain Shelby Bradford converted off a beautifully executed 3-on-2 odd-man rush, slicing into the slot and taking a pass from senior forward and alternate captain Yannick Truter before backhanding the puck around Ivanco in the left side of the net for a 2-0 advantage.

    “That was a great finish, a great read,” Lowes said. “I thought we looked fast today and we played with some urgency.”

    Junior forward Brityn Fussy netted Liberty’s third goal on Friday night. (Photo by Kendall Tidwell)

    Then, at the 11:49 mark, Fussy stretched the Lady Flames’ lead to 3-0 by capitalizing on assists from Bradford and Truter, skating the puck across the slot before rifling a high-precision wrist shot into the upper netting.

    Finally, with 8:56 to go, Battles received the puck from Jedrezjek and skated through the left circle before sending a short feed to Spanier for a one-timed finish through the five-hole from point-blank range.

    “(Jedrezjek) made a great drive toward the net and I was able to just tap it in,” Spanier said.

    The Lady Flames whose first two victories against the Beavers  came in the 2020 and 2021 WMCH Tournament finals, will look to complete the three-game series sweep on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. back at the LIC.

    “It will be the toughest one,” Lowes said. “You want to get that last one. I like the way we’re playing and we’re fairly healthy at this point in the season and that’s important, too.”

    The Lady Flames will conclude their regular season with a third game against the No. 3 Beavers before hosting two more contests against Adrian College, the No. 2 ranked team in the nation.

    “Every one we’ve got left is going to be tough,” Lowes said. “We’ve got these three and then Adrian and then our (WMCH) league playoffs, which is filled with top-10 teams, and then (ACHA) nationals (March 16-21 near Boston). It’s going to be a fun run to the end.”

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

    Lady Flames sophomore defenseman Madison Glynn spars with a Beavers player for possession of the puck. (Photo by Kendall Tidwell)