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    July 28, 2022 Lynhburg, Va. RSS |

    Liberty University’s four-time defending national champion ACHA Division I women’s hockey team has designated its three captains for the 2022-23 season — graduate Shelby Bradford, who was promoted from alternate to head captain, and alternate captains Yannick Truter, a senior, and junior Brityn Fussy. All three are forwards for the Lady Flames, with Fussy the only newcomer to the group. Truter is the reigning ACHA DI Player of the Year.

    “I really like the group,” Liberty Head Coach Chris Lowes said. “They balance each other. They understand the expectations at Liberty University, and they will protect our culture and will lead by example.”

    He said player stats did not factor into his and Assistant Coach Justin Forth’s selection of the leadership corps, but their selfless servants’ hearts and concern for others did.

    “They were selected based on what they’ve done rather than what we want them to do, and we want them to keep doing what they’ve been doing,” Lowes said. “It was not about their talents on the ice, though certainly all three of them are very big pieces of our (offensive) roster.

    “Really, it’s how they handle their business on and off the ice, how they’ll invest in the rest of our players,” he added. “At the forefront of our priorities is to promote women who are really going to invest in all areas into the lives of their teammates — to impact and support and love on all of the girls in that locker room.”

    Bradford will serve as head captain this season.

    Bradford, who enters her sixth season with the program, succeeds Vanessa DeMerchant, another sixth-year player, as the head captain.

    “Vanessa was head captain for two or three years and (alternate) captain for one or two more,” Lowes said. “It makes sense in a lot of ways, having a veteran serve in that role. Both (Truter and Fussy) bring different personalities and leadership styles, and they will just provide balance and support for Shelby, who’s taking over from a long line of really great leaders.”

    Besides DeMerchant, the Lady Flames lost previous captains Dana McLeod and Shannon Fehr from last year’s squad, but Lowes doesn’t expect any dropoff in leadership.

    Fussy and Truter complete the captains trio as alternates.

    “The staff and I have incredible confidence in this group,” he said. “We’ve got a great supporting cast, with so many natural leaders on our team, and that’s encouraging. A lot of girls will take that next step and will lead both on and off the ice in support of our captains group. They all have a passion and will bring different things, different energy to our locker room, our workouts, our practices, and even when we go on the road.”

    Currently, the 2022-23 roster includes 22 players, including just three true freshmen.

    “It’s a good year for us to have nine girls who were first-year players last year making that transition (to the collegiate game),” Lowes said. “We are excited to get everyone back on the ice and on campus, and to bring those three new girls into the mix. It’ll be pretty fast pace in kicking off the preseason, which will look very similar to last year’s.”

    The team’s first skate is set for Sunday, Aug. 21 — the day before Liberty’s first day of fall semester classes — and the puck will drop for the first exhibition game at 1:30 p.m. on Sept. 24 at the LaHaye Ice Center.