No. 19 Air Force travels to Mercyhurst
Jan. 28, 2009
This Week No. 19 Air Force (17-6-1, 14-3-1 AHA) travels to Erie, Pa., for a two-game AHA series with Mercyhurst (11-12-2, 9-6-2 AHA), Friday-Saturday, Jan. 30-31. Friday's faceoff is at 7:35 p.m. while Saturday's game starts at 7:05 ET.
Battle of Nation's Top Scoring Teams on Tap This week's Air Force-Mercyhurst series could be an entertaining one for the fans. Air Force is No. 1 in the nation in scoring, averaging 3.96 goals per game. Mercyhurst is No. 2 at 3.76 goals per game. Air Force put up big numbers early in the season while Mercyhurst is hot recently. The Falcons are averaging 2.75 goals per game in the last 12 while the Lakers are averaging nearly seven goals per game in the last three games.
Radio/Internet Both games will be broadcast live in Colorado Springs on KCSF AM 1300 and on the internet at www.GoAirForceFalcons.com by clicking on this link http://goairforcefalcons.cstv.com/sports/m-hockey/spec-rel/m-hockey-live-audio.html. The pregame show begins 20 minutes prior to faceoff. Jay Ritchie will call the play-by-play while Dave Toller will provide the analysis. Both games will also be video streamed live with audio by the B2 Network on a subscription basis. For more information, please go to the Atlantic Hockey Association web-site at AtlanticHockeyOnline.com. No television.
Last Week Air Force swept Army, 5-1 and 3-2, at the Cadet Ice Arena. Mercyhurst swept UConn, 7-2 and 6-0 in Erie, Pa.
Rankings Air Force was ranked 19th in the USCHO/CBS College Sports. AFA received votes in the USA Today/USA Hockey magazine poll (No. 19 based on the number of votes). AFA was No. 17 this week in the InsideCollegeHockey.com power rankings. Mercyhurst is not ranked.
More on the Rankings Air Force is ranked 18th in the RPI, tied for 18th in the PairWise and 27th in the KRACH as of Jan. 25. The KRACH, PairWise and RPI rankings use sophisticated mathematical formulas based on a team's winning percentage and the strength of schedule. KRACH is endorsed by College Hockey News as the best system to objectively rank teams. The PairWise rankings are similar to the model used by the NCAA Selection Committee. Although the PWR does not precisely duplicate the method used by the committee, the PWR has exactly predicted the NCAA tournament entries in each of the last eight years. Air Force was ranked No. 1 in both the KRACH and PairWise rankings on Dec. 2 for the first time in school history. Air Force was No. 9 in the first RPI released on Dec. 8, the highest in school history.
The Coaches Frank Serratore (Bemidji State, 1982) is in his 12th season as the head coach of Air Force. He has led the Falcons to back-to-back conference championships and NCAA berths. Serratore is the winningest coach in the history of Air Force hockey with a record of 187-207-31 and a career mark of 236-299-40 in his 16th year. Rick Gotkin (Brockport, 1982). is in his 20th season at Mercyhurst with a school and overall record of 358-230-41.
Scouting the Opponents Mercyhurst (Erie, Penn.) is one of the hottest teams in the league. The Lakers have won four straight league games, all at home, by a combined score of 22-3. It has been an up and down season for the Lakers with a six-game losing streak against ranked teams to open the season. Mercyhurst then had a seven-game unbeaten (6-0-1) streak in late November and early December that was followed by a five-game winless skid (0-4-1) prior to the current winning streak. The team is averaging 3.76 goals per game while allowing 3.28. The line of Steve Cameron, Scott Pitt and Matt Pierce have scored 39 goals in 25 games. The line ranks second in the nation in scoring, ahead of AFA's FLO line. Cameron has 15 goals and 33 points to lead the team. Sophomore Ryan Zapolski and senior Matt Lundin started the season by splitting time in the net. However, Zapolski has emerged as the starter, winning the last four games. Zapolski has a 9-2-2 record with a 2.02 GAA and a .939 saves percentage. MC is 6-1-1 at home this season.
Series Records Mercyhurst and Air Force have played nine times and the Falcons hold a 5-4 advantage in the series that began in 2007. All nine games have been played as AHA rivals. AFA is 3-1 all-time in Erie, 1-3 at the Academy and 1-0 on neutral ice. The Falcons have won two straight in the series an three of the last four. Two of the games have gone into overtime and six of the nine games have been decided by two goals or less.
The Last Time an Epic Battle
The last time Air Force and Mercyhurst met on the ice, it was a battle of epic proportions. In the 2008 AHA Championship Game in Rochester, N.Y., Air Force defeated Mercyhurst, 5-4 in double overtime. Josh Frider's goal 56 seconds lifted Air Force to its second consecutive AHA championship and earned a berth to the NCAA Tournament. Air Force had a 2-0 lead in the second period, but Mercyhurst took a 3-2 lead early in the third period. Air Force tied the game, Mercyhurst scored to go ahead 4-3 and then Frider's first goal of the game tied the score at 4-4. Volkening made a career-high 49 saves.