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    January 20, 2023 Chesterfield, Mo. RSS |

    Two third-period goals on perimeter shots by defensemen — set up by senior forward Yannick Truter, who assisted all three of the Lady Flames’ goals on the night — lifted Liberty University No. 1-ranked ACHA Division I women’s hockey team to a 3-1 victory over Maryville (Mo.) University on Thursday night at the Maryville University Ice Hockey Center in Chesterfield, Mo. The 2023-opening road contest was the first of three games in three days for the Lady Flames against Women’s Midwest College Hockey (WMCH) opponents.

    “It was a good battle for the first game back and I think our girls were tested,” Lady Flames Head Coach Chris Lowes said of the No. 8-ranked Saints, who slipped to 9-10-3 and 0-3 against Liberty this season. “We faced a little bit of pressure and we had a big third period. These area games that are important for us to show that we know how to get it done in the end. It was a great battle and a great way to start our road trip against a good team, with a quick turnaround.”

    Liberty next travels 20 minutes north to battle No. 9 McKendree (Ill.) on Friday at 3:30 p.m. EST.

    The victory over Maryville extended Liberty’s winning streak to 57 games and improved the four-time-defending ACHA DI national champion’s record to 17-0 with its second-most competitive game of the season. (The Lady Flames had previously edged Miami (Ohio) University by a 1-0 count on Nov. 5, when a power outage and generator troubles at the LaHaye Ice Center created puddles on the ice.)

    Just over a minute into the second period against Maryville, Liberty ended the scoreless tie by capitalizing on the speed and skating skills of Truter, who maneuvered the puck out from behind her cage out of the defensive zone, weaving her way through Saints defensemen before leaving it for sophomore forward Brielle Fussy in the slot. She controlled the loose puck with her glove before planting and firing a short-ranged shot through traffic for the go-ahead goal.

    Moments after the Saints converted a turnover in Liberty’s defensive end into the tying goal, the Lady Flames responded with the game-winner with 17:03 remaining in regulation off the first of two offensive faceoff assists by Truter. She won the puck back to sophomore defenseman Madison Glynn, who rocketed a wrist shot from the top of the right circle into the upper netting past Saints goalie Sawyer Duncan for a 2-1 Liberty lead. Then, at the 11:15 mark, senior defenseman Aislyn Stretch received the puck back from Truter along the right boards near the Maryville bench and sent a nearly identical wrist shot just beneath the crossbar for the final score.

    “When they got the equalizer off a bad turnover in our end that they made us pay for, I was really happy with our response,” Lowes said. “They had all the momentum, so for us to rebound with two goals off offensive zone faceoffs was impressive. Yannick won both of them and we had great net presence and traffic from (graduate forward and head captain) Shelby Bradford. Both shots went high and were very similar, rips to the top glove hand from near the blue line.”

    Senior forward Yannick Truter shows her defensive skills by poke checking the puck out of the slot in the teams’ first meeting on Nov. 18 at the LaHaye Ice Center.

    He said the Lady Flames are dangerous scoring threats from anywhere on the ice.

    “We want our (defensemen) to be encouraged to be offensive-minded, looking for opportunities to attack,” Lowes said. “There are two main ways they can do that, on the offensive rush and off offensive zone faceoffs. Madi (Glynn) and Ace (Stretch) are absolutely great shooters, and important weapons on our back line.”

    Liberty outshot the Saints, 31-22, and junior goalie Amanda Storey made 21 saves to improve to 7-0 on the season.

    After meeting McKendree for the first time since the 2021 WMCH Tournament, Liberty will conclude its three-game series in the St. Louis area on Saturday at 8:50 p.m. EST at No. 11 Lindenwood (Mo.).

    “These are three great programs, and at this point of the year, every game’s important, especially for national rankings,” Lowes said.

    By Ted Allen/Staff Writer; Videos by Patrick Strawn/Club Sports Director of Video & Media, and Maryville Saints Hockey Network