Serratore, who was named the AHC Coach of the Year in 2016, will enter his 20th season at the Academy
Senior hockey player was presented the award by Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers
Gunner scored two goals, including the game-winner in overtime
Demers has three points and nets game-winner with 3:40 remaining
Air Force is 5-13-3 overall and in ninth in the league with a 4-6-2
As the fourth head coach in the 50 years of Air Force hockey, Serratore was in his office less than a week when he pointed out what it would take to turn the program around.
“We want to be the hardest working team in the country,” Serratore said. “We want to have a team full of over-achievers. Not everyone is blessed with outstanding ability, but everyone can work hard and play with pride and spirit.”
Serratore enters his 22nd season at Air Force with a 379-335-81 record at the Academy. He has an overall mark of 425-427-90 in 25 seasons as a college head coach. He is one of just 21 coaches in the history of NCAA hockey with 400 or more wins at a Division I institution, and one of just five active coaches.
Not only has Serratore turned the Falcon program around, he has turned it into a legitimate national contender, with seven conference championships and seven NCAA appearances in the last 12 years. Over the last 10 years, Air Force has beaten a team ranked in the top five in the nation nine times.
Last season, Air Force finished with a 23-15-5 overall record and a 13-11-4 record in Atlantic Hockey. The Falcons won their second consecutive Atlantic Hockey championship and advanced to the NCAA Elite Eight for the second straight year. Air Force tied for third in the league and was the fifth seed in the AHC playoffs. After a bye week, the Falcons traveled to West Point for a quarterfinal series with fourth-seeded Army. It took three games, but Tyler Ledford’s goal in overtime lifted the Falcons to a 1-0 win and a berth in the AHC Final Four. Wins over Canisius and Robert Morris gave the Falcons their seventh AHC tournament title in the last 12 years. At the NCAA West Regional, Air Force defeated No. 1 St. Cloud State (4-1) before falling to No. 11 Minnesota Duluth (2-1) in the Elite Eight.
In 2016-17, the Falcons rolled again posting a 27-10-5 overall record winning the AHC conference tournament for the sixth time in history and advancing to the NCAA Tournament for the sixth time as well. The Falcons began the year defeating fifth-ranked Boston College and Ohio State to win the Denver Ice Breaker tournament. The Falcons also retained the Pikes Peak Trophy for the fourth straight season with a 6-3 victory over Colorado College, the senior class of 2017 is the only class in school history to defeat Colorado College in each of their four years going 4-1 against the Tigers. In the 2017 NCAA Tournament, the Falcons defeated No. 8 Western Michigan, 5-4, before falling in East Region championship to No. 2 Harvard, 3-2. The 2017 NCAA Elite Eight finish was the second for Serratore and the program as the Falcons advanced to the Elite Eight as well in 2009.
In 2015-16, the Falcons exceeded everyone’s expectations and posted a 20-12 -5 overall record. Air Force was picked to finish seventh in the conference, earned the No. 2 seed in the AHC Tournament and earned its first trip to the conference Final Four in three seasons. By splitting a two-game series with Colorado College, the Falcons retained the Pikes Peak Trophy for the third straight season.
The Falcons went 16-21-4 overall and placed seventh in Atlantic Hockey in 2014-15. For the second straight season, the Falcons won the Pikes Peak Trophy by beating Colorado College. The senior class of 2015 never lost to Army, going 6-0-2 against the Black Knights, and went 3-1 against Colorado College.
In 2013-14, Air Force posted a 21-14-4 overall record, marking the fifth time in the last seven years the team has won 20 or more games. The Falcons won the inaugural Pikes Peak Trophy by beating Colorado College, 3-1, at the World Arena. Air Force also won the Ledyard Bank Classic, hosted by Dartmouth, by defeating 16th-ranked Northeastern and fourth-ranked Providence. For the first time since 2001, the Falcons swept Army at West Point.
In 2012-13, Air Force finished second in the AHA regular season, but was defeated in the conference quarterfinals by eventual champion, Canisius. The Falcons finished the season 17-13-7 overall and 15-7-5 in the league.
Air Force won its second straight AHA title in 2011-12 as the team finished the season with a 21-11-7 overall record. The Falcons won their first outright AHA regular-season title with a 15-6-6 league record. Air Force earned a 2-1 win at fifth-ranked Colorado College, the first ever win at the World Arena. After defeating RIT in the AHA title game, the season came to an end with a 2-0 loss to top-ranked Boston College, the eventual NCAA national champion, in the Northeast Regional.
In 2010-11, the Falcons recovered from a slow start to win its fourth AHA title in five years. Air Force blanked the regular-season champion, RIT, 1-0, in the championship game. A 2-1 overtime loss to top-seed Yale in the NCAA Tournament ended the Falcons’ season at 20-12-6.
The 2009-10 season was the first one in the last six years that the Falcons watched the NCAA Tournament at home. The Falcons swept Army in the AHA quarterfinals at home but fell on a late goal to Sacred Heart in the AHA semifinals. AFA finished the season 16-15-6 overall and third in the AHA.
The 2008-09 season proved to be the best in school history with a school-record 28 wins, another league championship and the Academy’s first-ever NCAA Tournament victory. Air Force opened the season with a school-record 13 straight wins and rose to No. 10 in the nation, the highest in Academy history. Win No. 13 was a 4-1 win over third-ranked Colorado College to end a 24-year drought vs. the Tigers. As the No. 1 seed in the AHA Final Four, AFA rolled over Bentley and Mercyhurst with back-to-back shutouts to win its third straight title. The first round of the NCAA East Regional put the Falcons against third-ranked Michigan. Andrew Volkening made 43 saves as the Falcons earned a 2-0 win. Air Force came within a whisker of the Frozen Four, but 10th-ranked Vermont defeated Air Force in double overtime on a goal that was awarded on video review.
Serratore led Air Force to 21 wins in 2007-08 en route to the second AHA championship and NCAA Tournament berth. Air Force was 21-12-6 overall and finished third in the league. The Falcons needed double-overtime to beat Mercyhurst, 5-4, in the championship game.. The win sent the Falcons to the NCAA Tournament but second-ranked Miami-Ohio ended the Falcons’ season with a 3-2 overtime loss.
In 2006-07, Air Force won its first-ever conference championship and trip to the NCAA Tournament. AFA faced top-seeded Minnesota in the West Regional. Despite a third-period lead, Minnesota defeated Air Force, 4-3. AFA ended the season with a 19-16-5 overall record and a 13-10-5 mark for fifth place in the AHA. The Falcons became the first service academy team to ever win a conference hockey championship and play in the NCAA Tournament.
His second season was no different as he guided one of the nation’s youngest teams to the best winning percentage in four years at the Academy. In 1999-2000, Serratore led the Falcons to the most wins (19) in 23 years and the first winning season (19-18-2) in 10 years. Serratore was instrumental in getting the Falcons into a conference as played a key role in the group of independents banding together to form the College Hockey America conference starting in the 1999-00 season.
In his first season at the Academy, Serratore’s disciplined and aggressive style produced more wins than the previous two seasons combined and the first 15-win season in three years. The first-year coach guided the Falcons to a 15-19 overall record. The season could not have ended on a better note as the Falcons swept Army at West Point.
Serratore came to the Academy from the Manitoba Moose of the International Hockey League, where he was the director of hockey operations in 1996. He was the head coach and general manager of the Minnesota Moose (before they moved to Manitoba) in 1994 and 1995.
Prior to his position in Manitoba, Serratore was the head coach at the University of Denver from 1990-1994. During that time, he led the Pioneers to a 49-91-9 record in four seasons and is credited with rebuilding a struggling Pioneer program. In 1995 and 1997, Pioneer teams which were recruited during his tenure made two NCAA final eight appearances and placed third in the WCHA.
Before taking over the reins at DU, Serratore was the coach and general manager of the Omaha Lancers of the United States Junior Hockey League. In one season, he took over a last-place team and led them to the USHL regular season and playoff championship. The worst-to-first Cinderella season earned Serratore the USHL General Manager of the Year and the Omaha Sportscasters Sportsman of the Year awards in 1990.
His other coaching experiences have been as the assistant coach at the University of North Dakota (1987-89), the head coach and general manager of the Rochester Mustangs (1985-87) and the Austin Mavericks (1983-85) of the U.S. Junior Hockey League.
During his tenure in the USHL, he won three Anderson Cups (league champions) and two Clark Cups (playoff championships) while posting a 247-103-6 record. In 1987, he led Rochester to the USA Hockey national championship. While coaching in the USHL, he was named general manager of the year twice and coach of the year once.
Serratore attended Western Michigan University from 1977-79 before earning his bachelor’s degree in physical education from Bemidji State University in 1982. He lettered four years in hockey at the two schools playing goalie. He then earned a master’s degree in athletic administration/physical education from North Dakota in 1994. He played two seasons for the St. Paul Vulcans (USHL) from 1975-77, winning both the Anderson Cup and Clark Cup, and had a brief stint with the Nashville South Stars (Central Hockey League) in 1982.
The native of Coleraine, Minn., is no stranger to coaching at the Olympic development level. In August 2003, Serratore was the head coach of the United States Under-17 Team that won the gold medal at the Five Nations Tournament in Prievizda, Slovakia. He has coached at two USA Hockey Olympic Sports Festivals and has been the coach of the USA Hockey Development Program since 1985. In 1993, he coached the West team to the silver medal at the U.S. Olympic Sports Festival in San Antonio, Texas.
Serratore, 59, is married to the former Carol Samec of St. Paul, Minn. They have four children, twin boys Tom and Tim and two daughters, Carly, a 2013 Academy graduate, and Carina.