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    March 19, 2022 Maryland Heights, Mo. RSS |

    Junior forward Yannick Truter, the ACHA Division I Player of the Year netted a natural hat trick to lift Liberty University’s top-ranked, three-time defending ACHA Division I national champion women’s hockey team to a 4-0 lead on fifth-seeded Lindenwood University before holding on for a 4-2 semifinal triumph on Saturday night.

    “We kind of let the foot off the gas a bit and Lindenwood had a good last 30 minutes,” Lady Flames Assistant Coach Justin Forth said. “Their season was on the line and they played like it. We battled well and did enough to secure another championship game. Everyone played well and we were disciplined.”

    In a rematch of last season’s national championship game, against the team they are tied with for the most all-time national championships (four) and most in a row (three) on its home ice, at the Centene Community Ice Center’s USA Arena in Maryland Heights, Mo., the Lady Flames outshot the Lions, 34-16, for the game and 15-2 in the first period, when they dominated time of possession.

    Liberty was only called for two penalties as opposed to four for Lindenwood (21-6-3), which had upset No. 4 Adrian College in the quarterfinals.

    The Lady Flames (24-0) struck first with 10:13 left in the first period when graduate defenseman Dana McLeod’s shot from outside of the right circle deflected off the blocker of Lindenwood goalie Emily McDonald and flipped up in the air and over the goal line for a 1-0 lead.

    Truter scored Liberty’s second, third, and fourth goals for a 4-0 lead and her first hat trick of the season.

    Then, at the 5:28 mark, Truter, cleaned up the rebound of a breakaway shot by graduate forward and alternate captain Shelby Bradford to double the advantage to 2-0.

    While the Lions were only outshot 10-8 in the second, they were outscored 2-1 as Liberty maintained control of the contest.

    With 11:13 to play in the second period, Truter recovered the puck in the left corner after a shot from the point by McLeod before skating to the top of the left circle and across to the high slot where she launched a wrist shot that deflected off a Lions defenseman inside the left post for a 3-0 advantage.

    Less than two minutes later, Truter was tripped up as she skated the puck across the red line, putting the Lady Flames on their third power play. After sophomore forward Brityn Fussy struck a post with a shot in the slot, Truter completed her first hat trick of the season with a point-blank putback of freshman forward Zosia Adamek’s shot in the slot, stretching Liberty’s lead to 4-0 with 8:32 left in the period.

    Lindenwood defenseman Mackenzie White ended the shutout by skating out of the defensive zone, weaving through traffic to create a breakaway chance before beating Liberty sophomore goalie Amanda Storey with a bar-down shot, trimming the deficit to 4-1 with 3:28 to play in the second period.

    The Lions finished the period on attack, putting three successive shots on goal in the closing 10 seconds but Storey held her ground and repelled the first two before the third was lifted over the cage.

    Midway through the third, Storey saved a shot through the left circle by Lindenwood’s Risa Shatford. Then, with 6:23 remaining in regulation, after winning a faceoff in the right circle, Lions forward Kennedy Frank cut the Liberty lead to 4-2 by gathering a rebound of a shot by defenseman Kim Turcotte and firing it over Storey’s glove top shelf.

    Liberty will face No. 2-seeded Midland, a 4-3 winner over No. 3 Minot State in Saturday’s second semifinal, in Sunday’s 3 p.m. championship game back at USA Arena in a rematch of the WMCH Tournament final won by the Lady Flames.

    If it can extend its ACHA DI-record long winning streak to 40 games, Liberty would break ties with Lindenwood for most national titles in a row (four) and overall (five).

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

    Freshman forward Haley Battles, who made the ACHA All-Rookie First team, battles a Lions player in a 7-2 win on Oct. 2.