Feb. 27, 2013
This Week Air Force (15-11-7, 13-7-5 AHA) hosts No. 13 Niagara (21-6-5, 20-3-2 AHA) in a two-game Atlantic Hockey series, Friday-Saturday, March 1-2, at 7:05 p.m. each night in Cadet Ice Arena. Air Force is in second place in the league with 31 points while Niagara has already won the regular-season title with 42 points.
The Coach Head coach Frank Serratore is in his 16th season at Air Force with a record of 270-261-58 record (589 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 319-354-67 (740 games).
Falcons Clinch First-Round Bye By getting two points at RIT last weekend, Air Force clinched a bye in the first round of the AHA playoffs. Air Force can finish as high as second or as low as fourth in the AHA. Robert Morris, UConn, Holy Cross and Air Force could end up in a two-, three- or four-way tie with one of the teams not finishing in the top four. Since Air Force has the tiebreaker on Robert Morris (3-0 this season) and Holy Cross (split but AF wins head-to-head goal-differential) the Falcons would not finish lower than fourth.
Scouting the Purple Eagles Niagara has already clinched the regular-season title with a 20-3-2 league record (21-6-5 overall). The Purple Eagles are ranked 15th in the nation in both major polls are eighth in the Pairwise rankings Early in the season, Niagara was on a 12-game unbeaten streak. After sweeping Mercyhurst last weekend by identical 4-2 scores, Niagara has won four the last five games and is 8-2-1 in the last 11. Niagara is 8-6-3 on the road this season and 7-3-1 in road conference games. Junior Ryan Murphy leads the team with 32 points. Senior Giancarlo Iuorio leads the team with 17 goals and has 29 points despite missing 10 games with injury. Junior goalie Carsen Chubak leads the AHA with a 1.77 GAA and a .942 saves percentage in all games this season.
Earlier This Season vs. Purple Eagles Air Force and Niagara met in western New York on Jan. 5 and the Purple Eagles came from behind to beat Air Force, 4-3. Ryan Timar's goal in the first period gave the Falcons a 1-0 lead and Cole Gunner's goal in the second gave the Falcons a 2-1 lead entering the third period. Niagara's Hugo Turcotte and Chris Lochner scored early in the third period for a 3-2 lead. Scott Holm tied the game at 3-3 at the 5:11 mark. NU's Matt Williams scored the game-winner at 11:58. Air Force outshot Niagara, 34-31. Jason Torf had 27 saves while Carsen Chubak had 31.
Series with Niagara Niagara holds a 29-15-4 lead in the series that began in 1996 when both teams were independents. As independents, the teams played 10 times and AFA was 5-5 vs. the Purple Eagles. From 1999-2000 to 2005-06, both teams were in College Hockey America and played 31 times and Niagara holds a 22-6-3 advantage. Beginning in 2010-11, the teams were both members of Atlantic Hockey. As AHA rivals, AFA has a 4-2-1 lead in the series The teams have played 21 times at the Academy and the Purple Eagles hold an 11-8-2 advantage. Air Force has won two of the last three at home. The last six games have been decided by two goals or less with three going OT.
Final Regular-Season Home Game for Seniors
Saturday's game vs. Niagara on March 2 will be the final home regular-season game for six Air Force seniors. Eric Artman, David Bosner, Stephen Carew, Kyle De Laurell, John Kruse and Mike Walsh have combined win two Atlantic Hockey championships (2011 and 2012) and played in two NCAA Tournaments in the last three years. The class has cominbed for a 72-49-26 record in their career. The group won 16 as freshmen, 20 as sophomores, 21 as juniors and 15 so far this season. The group has combined to play in 614 career games and score 307 points on 122 goals and 185 assists.