Women’s Hockey: Liberty captures third straight national title
The Liberty women’s hockey team skated to a national championship three-peat Monday night, beating Lindenwood, 3-1, in the AHCA finals at Maysa Arena in Minot, N.D.
It was the fourth national title overall for Liberty (19-1, 15-1 ACHA), matching the Lady Lions’ record total.
The Lady Lions (14-9-1) were the only other ACHA DI women’s team to accomplish the feat of capturing three consecutive crowns.
Graduate forward Val Manchak tallied two goals to earn Player of the Game honors, and sophomore linemate Yannick Truter was selected as Tournament MVP.
“We have built quite a rivalry and just as much mutual respect for each other,” said Liberty fourth-year coach Chris Lowes, who was named ACHA DI women’s hockey Coach of the Year for the first time last week and raised his record to 116-7-4 with the Lady Flames’ fifth win in five days.
“I feel a sense of relief and pride in what our girls have done. It is pretty special and impressive and exciting — something that I’ll remember forever. I’ll remember this group, and this is something these girls will have to cherish for the rest of their lives.”
Lowes credited Liberty’s Club Sports strength & conditioning and athletic training staffs for keeping the Lady Flames in peak physical condition heading into and during the five games in five days at the national championships.
“We knew once the nationals format was set that our depth and conditioning was going to be a big thing,” Lowes said. “We’ve had 8-10 girls with significant injuries and if it wasn’t nationals, they probably would have been scratched. Val (Manchak) came back early from injury, after having two major surgeries in the last 12 months. It’s a credit to her conditioning and resilience and her commitment to come back and get the job done, and we needed her.”
He noted that it took a complete team effort for the Lady Flames to pull off the trifecta, after repeating as second-year Women’s Midwest College Hockey Tournament champions late last month in St. Louis.
“So many girls played a big role, top to bottom,” he said. “We lost a lot of girls from last year’s team and found girls to fill those holes and take this team to the next level. The future’s bright. We’ll take a couple days to celebrate and we’ll get back to work. I’m already excited to get started again in the fall.”