Falcons host Bentley in two-game league series, Feb. 1-2
Jan. 29, 2008
Radio/Internet Both games will be broadcast on the radio on KKML AM 1300 The Sports Animal and on the internet at GoAirForceFalcons.com. Jay Ritchie will do the play-by-play while Dave Toller will do the color. The pregame show begins 20 minutes prior to faceoff each night.
Video Streaming/Television Both games will be video streamed 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 lost a pair of league game to Army at West Point by identical scores of 2-1 Bentley skated to back-to-back 3-3 overtime ties at home with Mercyhurst
Rankings Air Force has been receiving votes every week in the USCHO/CSTV poll. This week, Air Force received 11 votes and, based on the number of votes, is 28th in the poll. The Falcons peaked at No. 20 in the poll on Jan. 21. Bentley is unranked
Scouting The Opponents Bentley is 6-13-5 overall and 6-7-5 in the AHA. Bentley was hot early in the season when the Falcons were 4-1-1 in league play after their first six games. However, Bentley has cooled off and has won just one game since Nov. 16. The Falcons are just 1-6-4 in their last 11 games. The lone win was a 6-4 victory over Holy Cross as part of a two-game split with the Crusaders in Worcester. Freshman Erik Peterson leads the team with 12 goals. Junior forward Dain Prewitt has 11 assists and 21 points. Freshman Joe Calvi is the team's top goaltender with a 2.62 goals against average and a .917 saves percentage to rank fourth in the league in both categories.
The Coaches Air Force coach Frank Serratore (Bemidji State, 1982) is in his 11th season with the Falcons and his 15th as a collegiate head coach. He has an Air Force record of 161-199-28. His overall mark is 210-291-37. Bentley's Ryan Soderquist is in his seventh season at Bentley with a school and overall record of 67-110-21.
Beating the Best Air Force has a 3-2-1 record vs. ranked teams this season. The Falcons opened the season by sweeping then No. 14 Quinnipiac at the Academy by scores of 4-1 and 3-1. Quinnipiac is currently ranked 14th. The Falcons lost to then No. 14 (currently No. 11) Boston College, 8-2. The Falcons tied then No. 12 and current No. 18 Minnesota, 2-2 in overtime. Air Force defeated No. 4 Denver, 5-2, Jan. 18. The next night, the Falcons fell to No. 3 Colorado College, 2-1, at the World Arena.
Series Records Bentley and Air Force have played 15 times and Air Force holds a 9-5-1 lead in the series that began in 1998. In Atlantic Hockey Association games, Air Force and Bentley have played six times and each team has won three times. The teams have played five times at Air Force and AFA has a 3-2 record in those games. Air Force and Bentley split the series last season in Colorado as AFA won the first night, 5-1, and Bentley came from behind for a 6-5 win in game two.
Earlier This Season Air Force and Bentley met in late October in Waltham, Mass., and split the two-game league series. Bentley won the first game, 4-0, while AFA won the second game, 3-1. In the first game, Bentley scored three goals in the third period for its first win of the season and Air Force's first loss. Bentley outshot Air Force, 16-5, in the first period and Marc Menzione scored on the power play. Bentley opened the third period with two goals in the first six minutes started by a short-handed goal by Erik Peterson. Dain Prewitt scored the last two goals, the second an empty-netter with 3:34 remaining. Air Force was outshot, 32-29, in the game. AFA was 0-for-5 on the power play while BC was 1-for-3. Volkening made 28 saves in the while Bentley's Joe Calvi stopped all 29 shots he faced. In the second game, Air Force scored one goal in each period for a 3-1 win. Bentley jumped up early when Dustin Cloutier scored midway through the first period. Air Force answered at the 14:29 mark when Mike Phillipich scored his third of the year from Greg Flynn and Michael Mayra down low. Early in the second period, Jeff Hajner scored on the power play from Eric Ehn and Mayra for a 2-1 lead. Brett Nylander gave Air Force a two-goal lead with 3:14 remaining in the third period. Bentley out-shot Air Force, 25-24. AFA was 1-for-6 on the power play while Bentley was 0-for-2. Volkening made 24 saves for AFA while Calvi made 21.
Ehn Injury Update Air Force senior center Eric Ehn, a 2007 All-American and one of three finalists for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award, is out indefinitely due to an injury suffered vs. Colorado College, Jan. 19, at the Colorado Springs World Arena. Ehn was skating down the slot with Tiger Bill Sweatt and was taken down on the play. He then slid into the end boards feet first. Ehn suffered a fractured left fibula (the smaller of the two shin bones) and some ligament damage in the left ankle. Ehn had surgery on Jan. 22 to stabilize the ankle joint. During surgery, a pin was placed in the ankle to hold the joint in place. He is scheduled to begin his rehabilitation the first week of February. A timetable for his return has not yet been set, but he has not been ruled out for the season.
Tight Conference Race As many people expected, the Atlantic Hockey race is getting tighter every weekend. RIT (24 points) has a three-point lead in first place over Air Force and Sacred Heart (21 points). There are seven teams within four points of each other. There are four points available in every two-game series, therefore one series could catapult a team from the bottom of the standings to the top. Army is in fourth place with 20 points, Mercyhurst is fifth with 19 points while Bentley, Holy Cross and UConn are all tied for sixth with 17 points. RIT and Air Force have both played 20 league games. Howver, the other eight teams have only played 18 so they all have two games in hand on the Tigers and Falcons.
A Look Ahead at the Playoffs -- The Quest for the Top Three With all 10 teams eligible for the postseason this year, the top five seeds at the end of the regular season will host the bottom five seeds in a best two out of three series, March 7-9. The five winners advance to the AHA Final Five in Rochester, N.Y., March 14-16. The first game of the Final Five features the No. 4 seed vs. No. 5. The winner faces the top seed the next day while No. 2 faces No. 3. The goal for every team is to finish in the top three. The three top teams at the end of the regular season have home ice advantage in the first round and also avoid the play-in game at the Final Five. Thus, two wins at the Final Five, as opposed to three, will win the league championship and a berth in the NCAA Tournament.
Scoring Drought Air Force has scored just one goal in each of the last three games (Colorado College and both Army games). The Falcons are 0-3 in those games. In conference road games this season, Air Force is averaging just 2.4 goals per game, with 24 goals in 10 games. Ten of those goals came in AFA's only conference sweep of the season at AIC, Nov. 30-Dec. 1. In the other eight games, AFA is averaging just 1.75 goals per game (14 goals in eight league road games).
Thank You Falcon Fans
Air Force is averaging 1,689 fans per game this season, which is the highest average attendance over the last 11 years when official attendance, as opposed to estimated attendance, has been kept. The Falcons have had four crowds over 2,000 this season, including the last three home games vs. RIT and Denver, in the 2,502-seat arena. The school record official attendance of 1,680 as set in 2004-05. Below are the official attendance numbers since the 1996-97 season.