Jan. 29, 2013
This Week Air Force (11-9-5, 7-5-3 AHA), hosts American International College (5-14-4, 2-11-4 AHA) in a two-game Atlantic Hockey Association series, Friday-Saturday, Feb. 1-2, at 7:05 p.m. MT each night at the Academy's Cadet Ice Arena. Air Force is in second place in the AHA with 21 points while AIC is in 11th with eight points.
The Coach Head coach Frank Serratore is in his 16th season at Air Force with a record of 266-259-56 record (581 games). He is the winningest coach in the history of Air Force hockey, having led Air Force to five AHA championships and five NCAA Tournaments in the last six years. In his 20th season as a collegiate head coach, he has an overall record of 315-352-64 (731 games).
Scouting the Yellow Jackets AIC is 5-14-4 overall and 2-11-4 in the AHA for 11th place.The Yellow Jackets are winless in their last three games dating back to a 4-1 win over Robert Morris, Jan. 18. AIC lost and tied UConn last week with a 3-1 loss on the road and a 1-1 overtime tie at home. Earlier in the season, AIC beat Quinnipiac, 2-1, on the road. Quinnipiac is currently second in the nation and has just three losses all season. Senior forward Adam Pleskach leads the team with 18 points (7-11-18). Senior goalie Ben Meisner has played nearly every minute in the net and has made more saves than any goalie in Atlantic Hockey (717). He has a .915 saves percentage and a 3.51 GAA.
Last Season vs. the Yellow Jackets Air Force swept a two-game series with AIC last season in Springfield, Mass., by scores of 8-3 and 7-3. In the first game, Kyle De Laurell's second goal of the game came just nine seconds into the second period and gave the Falcons a 5-0 lead. John Kruse also scored two goals in the 8-3 win. In the second game, Casey Kleisinger, John Kruse and Stephen Carew all scored in the first four minutes of the first period for a 3-0 lead. AIC cut the lead to 3-2 early in the second period. Kleisinger and Carew scored in the third period as well for a 6-2 advantage en route to the 7-3 win. Stephen Caple started both games for the Falcons and earned the two wins, making 39 saves. AIC goalie Ben Meisner came on in relief in the first game and started the second game. He made 10 saves while allowing seven goals in 29 minutes.
Tight Race Niagara has 30 points to lead Atlantic Hockey and the Purple Eagles have a nine-point lead over Air Force. However, after Niagara, the race is air-tight. There are eight teams within five points of each other, including five teams within three points of each other. Air Force is in second place in the AHA with 21 points followed by Holy Cross (20), Bentley (19), Mercyhurst (18), Canisius (18) and Army in seventh with 17 points.
Home Cookin' After playing 16 of the first 23 games on the road, Air Force will spend some time at home in the second half of the season. Air Force is in the midst of a four-game home stand as the Falcons hosted Robert Morris, Jan. 25-26, and then host AIC, Feb. 1-2. Air Force plays eight of the final 12 regular-season games at home with the only road trips at Mercyhurst (Feb. 8-9) and at RIT (Feb. 22-23).
Series vs. the Yellow Jackets Air Force and AIC have played 24 times and the Falcons hold a 22-1-1 lead in the series that began in 1980. Air Force has won three straight in the series dating back to a 5-3 AIC win at the Academy in 2010. AFA is 10-1-1 in games played at the Academy As AHA rivals, Air Force leads the series 14-1-1. Last season, Air Force swept the two-game series at AIC by scores of 8-3 and 7-3. The last time the teams played at Air Force was in 2010. AIC won the first game, 5-3, while Air Force won the second game, 12-0.
A Turn for the Better
After a slow start, the Air Force hockey team is playing much better since the beginning of December. Air Force is 8-2-2 in its last 12 games with the only two losses at No. 1 Minnesota and at No. 17 Niagara. AFA completed the month of January with a 5-1-1 record, the best mark since the Falcons went 9-2 in January in 1986-87. At 11-9-5 overall, AFA is above .500 for the first time this season. Air Force's current six -game unbeaten streak is the longest since a nine-gamer last season. The unbeaten streak is the fourth-longest in the nation. Quinnipiac has the nation's longest streak at 17 games (15-0-2), followed by UMass Lowell at 11 games (10-0-1) and Alaska at 7 (6- 0-1).