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    October 1, 2022 Lynchburg, Va. RSS |

    Following another dominating performance against the Ontario, Canada-based Hockey Training institute (HTI), outshooting the U20 Stars, 45-19, in a 9-1 triumph Saturday at the LaHaye Ice Center, Liberty University ACHA Division I forward and alternate captain Brityn Fussy believes the Lady Flames are even more dangerous this season than they were in winning a fourth consecutive national championship last spring.

    “I’m really proud of all of our forwards,” she said. “They played amazing, even our fourth line. They were very involved, very physical, very fast. After last weekend (a 10-2 opening win over the Washington Pride), we kind of got our groove back and we kind of found our identity. (This weekend,) we played our game. We were very aggressive, producing a lot of offense and our defense held up pretty well as well. I’m so impressed with our rookies. They’re amazing, just stepping up for the people we lost last year.”

    Rianna Spanier controls the puck beside Brielle Fussy in front of the Lady Flames bench.

    Head Coach Chris Lowes said Liberty (3-0) carried over its intensity from Friday’s first game and found another gear on offense.

    “It was a faster game for both teams,” he said. “Both teams took it to a little bit higher level. We got into control early. I really liked our first period. We owned possession and made some good decisions and had good energy. Our penalty kill was good and that’s something we’ve been working on. I love where we’re at for the first of October as a team.”

    The Lady Flames only led 1-0 after the first period despite outshooting HTI 15-4 — with sophomore defenseman Sammy Peebles scoring the lone goal off an assist from senior forward Yannick Truter with 1:11 to play — before adding four goals in the second period and four more in the third.

    After junior forward Rianna Spanier doubled the advantage off a feed from sophomore defenseman Madison Glynn 2:32 into the second period, Fussy netted a natural hat trick, scoring the Lady Flames’ third, fourth, and fifth goals to push their lead to 5-1 at the end of the second period.

    “Scoring three goals, it’s all because of my linemates, Truter and (junior Carly) Glover,” Fussy said. “I give them a lot of the credit. We played on the same line at nationals last year, so we already had that chemistry built up. We knew each other, where we were on the ice, and we found each other and gave each other opportunities. Overall, we balance each other out perfectly.”

    Sophomore forward Haley Battles started the second period by netting her second goal of the series just 24 seconds after the opening faceoff, showcasing some dazzling moves as she danced past the Stars and finished unassisted to extend the edge to 6-1. Five and a half minutes later, senior defenseman Aislyn Stretch took a pass from sophomore forward Brielle Fussy and launched a shot past HTI goalie Will McPherson to make it 7-1 before Brielle Fussy scored shorthanded midway through the third.

    Junior forward Carly Glover starts a breakout against the Stars.

    With the teams skating four-on-four for the final 77 seconds after a series of penalties including a five-minute major assessed to freshman forward Brookelyn Beauchamp, Lady Flames senior forward and head captain Shelby Bradford capped the scoring with a shot through the slot with 50 seconds remaining.

    “They were definitely still aggressive and we needed that physicality to better ourselves and be more disciplined with our play,” Brityn Fussy said of the Stars. “I really like that team, they’re really fun to play against. There was definitely some competitiveness that got a little overboard. Brookelyn and a girl on their team collided and went head-first into the boards. We lost our temper a little bit (at times), but I’m still proud of how we kept ourselves and our composure.”

    Freshman goalie Alex Keith made her first start and recorded 18 saves in the lopsided win.

    “I had a lot of fun,” she said. “I’d like to have that one goal back, and just maybe show a little more aggression in the crease, but it was good. I had a pretty solid game. Starting and getting my first game was super exciting, so I’m really excited to keep building off that.”

    Keith, who is from Ontario, was familiar with some of the Stars.

    Freshman defenseman Emerson Oakes skates ahead of graduate forward Danica Polson on a break.

    “I actually played in a summer league with HTI once, so it was good I got to play with a few girls that I know,” she said.  “It was a good chance for us to get together. “It’s always fun playing against old teammates. It’s all just friendly competition, a good mix of both.”

    Liberty will embark on its first road trip of the season this week, playing one game at Rhode Island on Thursday at 7 p.m. before traveling on to UMass for games on Friday at 6:20 p.m. and Saturday at 11:20 a.m., before the Flames Football team kicks off against the Minutemen at 3:30 p.m.

    “It’s always exciting to get on the road,” Lowes said. “A lot of important things happen with your team during those road trips and it will be exciting to get out and be in another building and go to work. UMass is a nationals team and a team that’s gotten better each of the last couple years, so we’ll certainly be ready for a challenge.”

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

    The Lady Flames (in blue) and Stars (in white) pray after Saturday afternoon’s rematch at the LaHaye Ice Center. (Photo by Ted Allen)