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    December 3, 2022 Lynchburg, Va. RSS |

    Five consecutive goals on special teams — the first three on power plays and last two shorthanded — in a 17-minute stretch spanning the second and third periods helped Liberty University’s No. 1-ranked, four-time-defending ACHA Division I women’s hockey team to pull away from host Arizona State University in Friday night’s series opener, a 10-2 triumph over the No. 7 Sun Devils at Oceanside Ice Arena in Tempe, Ariz.

    Junior forward and alternate captain Brityn Fussy netted a hat trick to spark the attack after the Lady Flames swept the Sun Devils by 11-0 and 5-1 scores in the first two meetings between the five-time champions and ACHA DI newcomers, respectively, last fall at the LaHaye Ice Center.

    “The girls played a pretty good 60 minutes of hockey,” Liberty Head Coach Chris Lowes said after his team improved to 15-0 and extended its ACHA-record winning streak to 55 games. “First period, I liked our energy, especially on the road on one of our longer trips. The second period was a special teams battle, and the third was a bit of a mess. They got a couple goals by capitalizing on our breakdowns. Overall, it was a good result for us and I like the matchup for us.”

    Even-strength goals by Fussy, off a feed from sophomore defenseman Madison Glynn, and junior forward Rianna Spanier assisted by sophomore forward Haley Battles lifted the Lady Flames to a 2-0 lead after the first period before Battles put away passes from senior forward Linzy Jedrzejek and Spanier to start the second-period scoring and push Liberty’s advantage to 3-0.

    Lowes said special teams was the deciding factor in the contest, with the Lady Flames taking advantage of six ASU penalties.

    “We did good with our overall power play execution and made the right reads, including on a 5-on-3 for one minute,” Lowes said.

    Junior goalie Amanda Storey (6-0) was 10 minutes away from posting a fourth shutout when the Sun Devils struck twice.

    Liberty finished its first 5-on-4 opportunity after Jedrzejek was knocked out of the game following a hit to the head. Spanier put away an assist from Battles to make the Sun Devils pay for their infraction, padding the Lady Flames’ lead to 4-0 with 6:07 left in the second period.

    “Obviously, that was a major penalty on the hit to Linzy, and there is not much you can do as a team other than to go out and execute on the power play the best you can,” Lowes said.

    Fussy scored her second goal set up by junior forward Carly Glover on a second power play with 3:50 left in the period before sophomore Peyton Carle added a third by converting assists from Battles and Glynn just 37 seconds before the second intermission, stretching Liberty’s lead to 6-0.

    The Lady Flames were only whistled for two penalties on the night and scored two shorthanded goals in a 16-second spurt after the second one.

    Just over a minute after the Sun Devils’ forward Elle McKenna ended junior goalie Amanda Storey’s shutout bid with the first of her two goals at the 10:55 mark of the third period, Fussy completed her hat trick on the penalty kill off assists from junior defenseman Priscilla Ziefle and Carle with 9:25 left. Senior forward Yannick Truter finished a second shorthanded score off an assist from sophomore forward Brielle Fussy with 9:09 to go, extending Liberty’s lead to 8-1.

    “I loved our discipline, taking only two penalties, and one was for too many (women) on the ice, and that’s on the coaching staff,” Lowes said. “That’s a good sign for us, and hopefully, we’re the more disciplined team again (on Saturday).”

    After McKenna cut the deficit to 8-2, goals by Battles off an assist from freshman defenseman Emerson Oakes at the 5:50 mark and then by freshman forward Brookelyn Beauchamp set up by sophomore forward Isabella Hervert with 2:45 remaining in regulation capped the scoring for the Lady Flames at even strength.

    Liberty outshot ASU, 51-20, and Storey raised her ACHA record to 6-0 by making 18 saves. The Lady Flames will look to improve to 4-0 all-time against ASU on Saturday during their rematch set for 9 p.m. EST back at Oceanside, where freshman goalie Alex Keith (4-0, 0.25 goals-against average, 98.8 save percentage, 3 shutouts) will start in net for Liberty.

    By Ted Allen/Staff Writer