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    June 25, 2021 Corona, Calif. RSS |

    Matthew Berezowski, a 6-foot, 3-inch, 215-pound defenseman from Vancouver, British Columbia, who grew up in California and played the past two seasons in the North American Hockey League (NAHL) with the Chippewa (Wis.) Steel, committed on Friday to join Liberty University's ACHA Division I men's hockey team. He will join fellow Californian Luke Heimann as the second defensive recruit in the Flames' seven-member incoming class this fall.

    "I am super excited for Matt to join the group of guys we have coming in this fall," Liberty Head Coach Kirk Handy said. "He's a guy who fits our culture at Liberty. He's going to be able to come in and be effective and be solid for us both on and off the ice. He played in the NAHL for two years and has some good experience. He will fit in nicely with our D corps and play in a lot of different situations and be a contributor for us on the back end."

    Berezowski visited Liberty late last month, the week after the Flames Prospect Camp, after hearing about the program from a teammate at Chippewa.

    At 6-foot-3, 215 pounds, Berezowski has a hard shot.

    "I was recruited by numerous other (NCAA) DIII programs, but I felt God was really calling me to Liberty," he said. "I spent a lot of time in prayer about it, asking God to give me peace on where I should go, and He gave me a lot of peace about going to Liberty."

    "All the people on staff were really great, and getting to know more about them and their walk with God, I definitely felt the school was filled with a lot of Christ-minded and faith-filled people," he added.

    Berezowski, 20, plans to study computer science in Liberty's School of Business.

    "I am really excited for everything the school has to offer — everything from hockey to academics to the faith-based element," he said. "All three are very important to me, for different reasons, and I am excited that Liberty can offer a great experience in all three. There are a lot of great opportunities and resources worth pursuing."

    As a defenseman through his Juniors hockey career, Berezowski said he developed his physicality, shooting strength, and skating ability.

    "I play physical hockey around the net and am good at winning the puck battles and doing everything I can to give my team a chance of winning," he said. "I spent a lot of time prior to my junior career really working on my skating and my shot, as well as my strength, which helped me get a harder shot and be more physical. Working on my skating helps me have more speed on the ice with the puck and allows me to create more space, separation, and scoring opportunities. Working on my skating helped me become more stable so that I would be able to play more physically and take harder shots on net."

    Though he was not a captain at Chippewa, Berezowski said he developed into one of the leaders on the team and helped lead a Bible study where he encouraged his teammates to grow into closer relationships with God.

    "On the last day of our Bible study, we were able to see six of the guys get baptized, which was really awesome to see them take the next step in their faith," said Berezowski.

    Berezowski has improved his mobility and skating sklls with the puck..

    He grew up in a Christian family but noted that he has definitely strengthened his faith over the past two seasons spent away from home.

    "It wasn't always sunshine and rainbows," he said. "There were definitely some tough times I had to go through, but I am so thankful I went through them because God was able to shape me into who I am today, and I'm excited to see where He's leading me now."

    Berezowski said he experienced more community with his teammates at Chippewa than he had playing club hockey in California and is looking forward to taking that to the next level with the Flames.

    "At Liberty, the guys already have great camaraderie and relationships, and I'm excited to be a part of that," he said. "If a team wants to win, you need to have that team chemistry and team connection, and at a school like Liberty, compared to a lot of other teams where the faith aspect isn't as prominent, that is one great way we can all connect on a deeper level spiritually to perform even better when we're out on the ice."


    By Ted Allen/Staff Writer; Video by Hayden Robertson/Club Sports Video & Media Assistant