Falcons host Sacred Heart in AHA Quarterfinals, March 11-13
March 8, 2011
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This Week Air Force (16-11-6 overall and 14-7-6 in the AHA) hosts the Sacred Heart Pioneers (6-16-6, 5-23-6 AHA) in a best-of-three Atlantic Hockey Association quarterfinal series, March 11-12 and 13 if necessary at Cadet Ice Arena. Faceoff is at 7:05 p.m. each night. Tickets are on sale at www.GoAirForceFalcons.com or by calling 1-800-666-8723. The Falcons finished second in the AHA regular season and earned a bye in last week’s first round. It is the Falcons’ first ever second-place finish. In five seasons in the league, Air Force has finished fifth in 2007, third in 2008, first in 2009 and third in 2010. Sacred Heart advanced to the quarterfinals after beating Bentley, 6-3, at Bentley last Friday night, March 5. Sacred Heart finished 11th in the 12-team AHA and beat 10th-seeded Bentley. Sacred Heart is the only AHA team that Air Force did not defeat this season. The teams met twice in Connecticut in January and Sacred Heart took a win and a tie.
Four in a Row Air Force is on a current four-game winning streak, the longest of season The winning streak is the fourth longest in the nation (North Dakota seven, Michigan six, Harvard five) Air Force is five games over .500 for the first time this season.
Radio/Internet The games will be broadcast in Colorado Springs on The Sports Animal AM 1300 and on the internet at www.GoAirForceFalcons.com. Pregame show begins 30 minutes before faceoff. Jay Ritchie will call the play-by-play while Dave Toller will be the color analyst. Both games will be video streamed with audio by America One Television. Subscriptions can be purchased at www.americaone.com/college.
Winning Season Clinched At 16-11-6 overall, the Falcons have clinched a winning season for the fifth consecutive year, tying the school record. Air Force also had five straight winning seasons from 1985-86 to 1989-90. AFA’s 90 wins over the last five years are the second most in school history. The 1972-76 teams won 93.
AFA-Sacred Heart Playoff History Air Force and Sacred Heart have a storied playoff history. In 2006-07, Air Force’s first championship season, AFA squandered a 3-1 lead in the third period to Sacred Heart in semifinals then pulled the goalie trailing 4-3. Billy Devoney tied the game in the final minute. In overtime, Josh Print’s redirect of a Greg Flynn shot gave AFA a 5-4 win in the semifinals. AFA beat Army, 6-1, in the championship game. In 2008-09, AFA needed a third game in the best of three quarterfinal series at Cadet Ice Arena to beat Sacred Heart and advance to the AHA Final Four. AFA did not allow a goal in the Final Four en route to its third straight title. Air Force went on to beat Michigan and advance to the Elite Eight. Last season, Air Force and Sacred Heart met in the AHA semifinals. No. 3 Air Force pulled the goalie and Jacques Lamoureux tied the game in the final 90 seconds. No. 2 seed SHU answered with the game-winner 49 seconds later to end the Falcons’ season. Sacred Heart is the only team to ever beat Air Force in the AHA Tournament.
Best Hockey at Right Time Over the past five seasons, Air Force has played its best hockey at the right time of year From February 15 through the end of the season, Air Force is a combined 29-9-1
2006-07: Feb. 15-28: 3-1; March 1-31: 3-1
2007-08: Feb. 15-28: 2-0-1; March 1-31: 5-1
2008-09: Feb. 15-28: 3-1; March 1-31: 5-2
2009-10: Feb. 15-28: 2-2; March 1-31: 2-1
2010-11: Feb. 15-28: 4-0: March 1-31: 0-0
The Playoff Picture All four lower seeds, and all four road teams, won in the first round of the AHA playoffs. RIT and Air Force earned byes from the west pod. RIT will host AIC, the lowest remaining seed, March 11-13, in Rochester, N.Y. Air Force will host the second-lowest remaining seed, Sacred Heart. Holy Cross (No. 3 overall) and UConn (No. 6 overall) earned byes from the east pod. Holy Cross will host Canisius and UConn will host Mercyhurst. The four winners from the quarterfinal series will travel to Rochester, N.Y., to meet in the AHA Final Four, March 18-19. The winner from the single-elimination format will earn the league’s automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament.
AFA in the AHA Playoffs Air Force joined Atlantic Hockey for the 2006-07 season and won three straight tournament championships The Falcons also won the 2008-09 regular season title AFA is 13-2 all-time in the AHA playoffs The only losses have come to Sacred Heart: 4-1 in the AHA quarterfinals at Cadet Ice Arena in 2009 and 2-1 in the AHA semifinals in 2010 in Rochester, N.Y. In 2009, AFA went on to win the best of three series and advance to the AHA Final Four.
Series with Sacred Heart AFA and Sacred Heart have played 23 times and Air Force holds a 13-6-4 lead in the series that began in 2000. As AHA foes, the teams have played 19 times since the 2006-07 season and AFA has a 10-6-3 lead in the series. In games played at Air Force, AFA is 8-1-2 vs. SHU. Sacred Heart ended Air Force’s season last year with a 2-1 win in AHA Semifinals in Rochester, N.Y. Earlier this season, Air Force and Sacred Heart played twice in Milford, Conn., and the Pioneers took three points. Jacques Lamoureux scored with less than a second remaining in regulation as the Falcons escaped with a 5-5 tie on Friday in Milford, Conn. Sacred Heart won 4-2 on Saturday in Bridgeport. Air Force never led in the series, Jan. 7-8, in Connecticut. In the last two years, AFA is 2-4-1 vs. Sacred Heart with the only two wins coming at home Feb. 26-27, 2010.
Scouting the Pioneers Sacred Heart finished 11th in the AHA regular season with 16 points and a 6-16-6 league record The Pioneers are 6-23-6 overall after winning at Bentley, 6-3, in the first round of the AHA playoffs, March 5 Sacred Heart has won two straight as the Pioneers ended the regular season with a 5-1 win over Army In addition to the three points the Pioneers took from Air Force earlier this season, SHU has earned some significant ties this season. The Pioneers have tied at RIT, at Robert Morris and at Army Sophomore forward Eric Delong leads the team with 29 points Junior forward Matt Gingera leads the team and is fifth in the league with 19 goals in all games. He had a hat trick in the 6-3 win over Bentley in the first round of the AHA Tournament. Gingera was named the AHA Player of the Week for his performance last weekend. Last Friday, Bentley outshot Sacred Heart, 45-28, but SHU goalie Olivier St. Onge made 42 saves. St. Onge, who has played just 30 percent of the team’s minutes this season, also earned the win over Army, Feb. 26. He made 36 saves in that game. St. Onge has a .902 saves percentage and a 3.86 GAA in 17 games. Prior to the Army game Feb. 26, sophomore Steven Legatto made five straight starts. Legatto has played 28 games and has a .887 saves percentage and a 4.70 GAA. Legatto started both games against Air Force earlier this season and stopped 65 of 72 shots he faced.