Sitting at more than 7,000 feet above sea level, air is rare at the Air Force Academy. The Cadet Ice Arena, with a capacity of 2,470, has proven that home ice certainly can be an advantage.
The last two years, a ticket to Air Force hockey has been a hot commodity. Last season, AFA averaged 2,575 fans per game in 19 home games. AFA was one of only three schools in the nation to average a sellout throughout the regular season and playoffs (Michigan, and Notre Dame). Air Force averaged 104.3 percent of capacity last season, the second highest average in the nation (Notre Dame 105.3).
AFA played in front of 13 home sellouts last season, including the final nine consecutive games. The Cadet Ice Arena was sold out 14 of the 18 games last season and 35 of the last 41 games overall.
The Falcons have won more than 61 percent of all games played in the arena. In 42 seasons, the Falcons have had just 10 losing seasons at home. The team's record of 431-269-37 merely scratches the surface.
In service academy competition, the true measure of any academy team, the Falcons are 15-5-2 against Army at the Cadet Ice Arena.
The Falcons' first season of varsity hockey was the 1968-69 season when the team posted a 5-7 record at home. Air Force then went on to eight straight winning seasons at home. The Falcons finished 17-1 at home in 1974-75 and 14-3 at home in 1976-77. The team set a school record by winning 13 straight home games from Nov. 11, 1974 to Jan. 13, 1975. After two straight home losing seasons, Frank Serratore brought more than just winning hockey back to the "CIA." In his first season, he led AFA to a 13-8 record. In 2008-09, AFA was 16-4 at home, the sixth best home winning percentage in history.
The arena was originally built as part of the Cadet Field House in 1968. Throughout the years, the arena has seen improvements. In September 2000, the surface, refrigeration system, boards and glass were all replaced. In the summer of 2009, a new video board was installed on the south wall of the arena. Along with the video board, a new center-hung scoreboard and new sound system were added to the arena.
The spring, summer and fall of 2007 brought new events to the Cadet Ice Arena. On March 10, 2007, the arena hosted its first ever playoff game as the Falcons defeated Holy Cross, 3-0. On Sept. 16, 2007, the arena hosted its ever professional game as the Colorado Avalanche played their annual Burgundy-White game at the Academy. NHL stars Joe Sakic, Milan Hejduk and company thrilled the over-capacity crowd of 3,031. The Avalanche Burgundy-White game returned to the "CIA" in 2008, 2009 and 2011.