Wealth of talent at tryouts gives hockey teams competitive edge
An intense tryout camp last week at the LaHaye Ice Center culminated in Liberty University’s five ACHA hockey teams — Division I, II, and III men and Division I and II women — selecting some of their deepest, most talented teams in their respective programs’ history.
“We’re super excited with the results of tryouts,” Flames Division II men’s hockey Head Coach and Club Sports Assistant Director of Recruitment Ben Hughes said. “A strong year across the board, not just for the men’s teams, but the women’s teams as well. All five teams, overall, we hope would be the strongest and deepest group of teams we’ve had thus far.”
He said the approximately 50 new additions to the five teams bring strong character and Christian values as well as stellar individual playing skills.
“It’s always encouraging for us as coaches to see players that are coming here to Liberty because they want to be here for the right reasons,” Hughes said.
Flames DI men’s Associate Head Coach Jeff Boettger said it was one of the most if not the most competitive tryout he can recall.
“There was a lot of energy involved with the guys that were on the ice,” Boettger said. “Competition was pretty fierce and it was fun to see. Whether it was our goalies, our defensemen, or forwards, everybody was dialed in, they were competing hard. So it was a fun skate to watch and be part of and see who’s going to be the best fit in certain positions for us.”
He said the new players bring fresh fire and greater hunger and desire to the program.
“It was fun to see the guys in the locker room and their energy,” Boettger said. “We’ve added 10 new players to our team, we had a lot of guys leave last year, so with the changing of the guard, you’ve got a different energy, a different personality group in there. It’s a bunch of fun-loving, hard-working guys and they’re going to put their nose to the grindstone and go to work and enjoy the game together, enjoy the journey together, and I think be a really neat family.”
He and the Flames and Lady Flames are gearing up to make a push to get back to the March 10-20 ACHA National Championships in St. Louis.
“To see how all five teams do come March will be something to look forward to,” Boettger said.
Video by Kylee Ligle/Club Sports Video & Media Assistant