AFA travels to Rochester for AHA Final Four
March 13, 2007
This Week: Air Force (17-15-5 overall and 13-10-5 in the AHA) travels to Rochester, N.Y., for the fourth annual Atlantic Hockey Association Final Four. The fourth-seeded Falcons face the top-seeded Sacred Heart Pioneers (21-10-4, 17-7-4 AHA) Friday, March 16, at 4 pm ET. In the other semifinal game, No. 3 seed UConn will face No. 2 seed Army, Friday, March 17, at 7:30 pm ET.
Playoff Tickets: Fans can purchase tickets for the AHA Final Four by going to www.ticketmaster.com.
Radio/ Internet: All of Air Force's remaining games can be heard on the internet at www.GoAirForceFalcons.com and in Colorado Springs on ESPN 1300 AM The Sports Animal. Jay Ritchie, in his 10th season of Air Force hockey and 19th season of Falcon athletics, will do the play-by-play. Dave Toller will do the color. The pregame show begins 20 minutes prior to faceoff.
What's at Stake: The winners of the semifinals on Friday will meet in the championship game, Saturday, March 17, at 7 pm ET. The winner of the Final Four receives an automatic bid to the NCAA Regionals, March 23-25. The four regional sites are Rochester, N.Y. (March 23-24), Manchester, N.H. (March 24-25), Grand Rapids, Mich. (March 23-24) and Pepsi Center, Denver (March 24-25). The Frozen Four is in St. Louis (April 5 and 7).
The Matchup: Air Force and Sacred Heart met twice this season and the teams skated to two overtime ties (3-3 and 1-1). In the first game, AFA trailed 2-1 in the second period, but goals by Mike Phillipich and Josh Frider gave AFA a 3-2 lead. SH's Alexander Parent tied the game with 1:24 remaining forcing overtime. Peter Foster made 22 saves for AFA while Jason Smith made 35 for SH. The Falcons out-shot the Pioneers, 38-25. In the second game, both goals were scored in the first period. Matt Gordon scored for Sacred Heart and Josh Schaffer's power-play goal tied the game with 1:53 left in the opening period. AFA out-shot SH, 36-26. Foster made 25 saves while Smith made 25.
Scouting the Pioneers: Sacred Heart is 21-10-4 overall and 17-7-4 in the AHA regular season. The Pioneers finished second in the league and earned the No. 1 seed in the tournament. SHU beat AIC, 4-0, in the quarterfinals, March 10, in Fairfield, Conn. Sacred Heart has been receiving votes in the national polls most of the season. The Pioneers have won six of their last seven. Senior Pierre-Luc O'Brien leads the team and is third in the league in scoring with 45 points (16-29-45) in 35 games. Sophomore Bear Trapp has 39 points (16-23-39). Goaltender Jason Smith has played 77 percent of the team's minutes and has a .908 saves percentage and a 2.72 goals against average with a 16-8-3 record.
Scouting the Black Knights: Army is 16-11-5 overall and 15-8-5 in the AHA for third place in the league. Junior Luke Flicek leads the team with 34 points (14-20-34). Goaltender Josh Kassel has been outstanding in the nets with a 2.31 GAA and a .914 saves percentage. The Black Knights have allowed just 2.50 goals per game while scoring 2.81. AFA and Army split two games in Colorado, Jan. 19-20. AFA won the first game, 4-1, while Army won game two, 2-0. Andrew Ramsey and Jeff Hajner each scored two goals in the first game and Ben Worker earned the win. In game two, AFA outshot Army, 36-10, but Josh Kassel stopped all 36 Falcon attempts. Podsaid and Flicek scored for Army.
Scouting the Huskies: UConn is 16-17-2 overall and 15-11-2 in the AHA. Senior Matt Scherer leads the team with 36 points and 22 goals. Freshman Beau Erickson and senior Scott Tomes have split time in the nets, although Erickson has started the majority of the games down the stretch including the quarterfinal game. Erickson has a 2.92 GAA and a .908 saves percentage. UConn is allowing 3.51 goals per game while scoring 3.06. AFA and UConn split a two-game series in Storrs, Conn., Dec. 7-8. AFA won the first game, 4-2, while UConn won the second game, 7-5. Four different Falcons scored in game one and Foster made 22 saves. Tomes made 36 for UConn as AFA out-shot the Huskies, 40-24. In game two, AFA had a 5-2 lead to start the third period. However, UConn scored five in the third for a 7-5 win. Three of the goals came on the power play and one was an empty-netter. Five different Falcons scored. Chris Myrho had a hat trick for UConn. AFA out-shot UConn, 44-25. Foster had 17 saves, but Ian Harper took the loss as he gave up the game-winner. Tomes made 39 saves for the Huskies.
Series Record: Air Force and Sacred Heart have played six times and the Falcons hold a 3-0-3 advantage in the series that began in 2000. Four of the six games between the teams have gone into overtime. The teams have played twice on neutral ice, a 2-2 overtime tie (AFA won a shootout) in the 2003 UConn Tournament and a 3-2 Air Force win in overtime in the 2004 RPI Tournament.
The Coaches: Air Force coach Frank Serratore (Bemidji State, 1982) is in his 10th season at Air Force and his 14th as a collegiate head coach. He has a 146-188-24 record at AFA and an overall mark of 195-280-33. Sacred Heart coach Shaun Hannah is in his 11th year with the Pioneers with a school and overall record of 164-161-31.
Ehn Leads the Nation: Junior center Eric Ehn leads the nation in scoring with 1.68 points per game. Ehn's 62 points, on 24 goals and 38 assists, are tied with Michigan's T.J. Hensick. However, Hensick has played one more game. Ehn is also seventh in the nation in goals per game (0.65) and second in assists per game (1.03). He has led the nation in points in 14 of the last 17 weeks. Ehn has scored in 29 of the 37 games this season and has 17 multiple-point games and eight multiple-goal games.
Ehn for the Hobey: Ehn is ranked fifth on the CSTV.com Hobey Baker watch list. The Hobey is given annually to nation's top collegiate hockey player. The 10 finalists will be named on March 15. An Air Force player has never been a finalist for the award. Ehn first appeared on the CSTV list on Jan. 3 and was No. 10. He has been between fifth and 10th in the last seven weeks.
Vote for the Hobey: The first phase of the fan voting concluded on March 4 and Ehn was fourth in the final fan voting. The next phase of voting begins March 15 when the 10 finalists for the Hobey Baker are announced. Fans can vote for the Hobey by going to the official web-site at www.HobeyBaker.com.
AFA in Conference Tournaments: Air Force is 5-9 all-time in conference tournaments. Saturday's win over Holy Cross marked AFA's first game and first win in the Atlantic Hockey Association Tournament. Air Force was a member of the College Hockey America conference for seven seasons from 1999-00 to 2005-06. The Falcons were 4-9 in the history of the CHA Tournament. The Falcons won one game in the first three CHA Tournaments, twice beating Findlay and once beating Niagara on its home ice. After consecutive seasons of losing the first game, the fifth-seeded Falcons earned a tournament victory in 2004-05 with an overtime win over fourth-seeded Wayne State, 4-3, in Grand Rapids, Minn. AFA lost to Robert Morris, 4-3, in the first round of the CHA tournament last season in Detroit.
The Killers The Air Force penalty kill has been much improved in the second half of the season. On the season, AFA's penalty kill is at 79 percent to rank in the bottom eight in the nation. However, since Jan. 1, the Falcons have killed 85 percent of their opponents power plays. If the Falcons killed at that rate all season, the 85 percent clip would rank in the top 20 in the nation. AFA has allowed just 12 power-play goals in the last 16 games. Last Saturday, Holy Cross came to Cadet Ice Arena with the 13th-ranked power play in the nation, but the Falcons killed all six Crusader opportunities. AFA has killed 10 straight opponent power plays. AFA has killed 19 of the last 21 opponent power plays (90 percent).
Winning Streak Fourth Best in Nation: AFA's four-game winning streak is the fourth-longest in the nation. The Falcons won the second game vs. Canisius, swept at AIC and then beat Holy Cross, March 10, in the quarterfinals. Boston College has the nation's longest winning streak at eight games. Dartmouth and UMass both have six-game winning streaks. AFA's four-gamer is tied with Lake Superior State and Quinnipiac.
Recent Success: During Air Force's four-game winning streak, the Falcons have out-scored their opponents by a margin of 19-3. In the second half of the season, the Falcons have allowed more than three goals just twice. In the 16 games since Jan. 1, AFA has allowed two goals or less 11 times and AFA is 7-2-2 in those games.
Ehn's Points Per Game Highest in NCAA Since ... : Eric Ehn currently leads the nation in points per game with 1.68. His average is the highest in the NCAA since Colorado College's Peter Sejna led the nation in 2002-03 with a 1.95 points per game average (82 points in 42 games). That season, Sejna won the Hobey Baker Award and went on to play in the NHL with the St. Louis Blues. Last season, Mercyhurst's Dave Borrelli led the nation with a 1.55 points per game average (51 points in 33 games). In 2004-05, CC's Marty Sertich led the nation with a 1.49 points per game average (64 points in 43 games) and went on to win the Hobey.
AFA Sets School Record for Division I wins in Season: Air Force has 17 Division I victories this season to set a new school record. Serratore's 1999-00 team first set the previous record with 14 Division I wins. The 2001-02, 2003-04 and 2004-05 teams all tied the record. The 2003-04 and 2004-05 teams won 28 Division I games to set a two-year school record. AFA has won 16 this season and 11 last season. for 27 in the last two years.
60 Points for Ehn: With five points at AIC, Eric Ehn now has 60 points for the season. He became the first Falcon with 60 or more points in 27 years when Bob Sajevic had 64 points (35-29-64) in 1979-80. Chuck Delich holds the school record with 79 in 1975-76. Ehn is just the 11th Falcon in school history with 60 or more points in a season.
Two over 40: For the first time in 13 years, Air Force has two players with 40 or more points. Eric Ehn has 62 points and Andrew Ramsey has 44. The last time was in 1993-94 when Beau Bilek had 42 points and Andy Veneri had 41. The 106 combined points by Ehn and Ramsey are the most in 27 years when Bob Sajevic (35-29-64) and Mike Smellie (32-23-55) combined for 119 in 1979-80.
Two over 20: Ehn (24 goals) and Ramsey (20 goals) are the first two Falcons to score over 20 goals in the same season in 25 years when Mark Manney (27-26-53) and Tom Richards (22-26-48) combined for 48 goals in 1981-82.
Last Week: Ben Worker stopped all 17 shots he faced as Air Force blanked Holy Cross, 3-0, in the Atlantic Hockey Association quarterfinal game at the Air Force Academy's Cadet Ice Arena, Saturday, March 10. With just over four minutes left in the first period, Theo Zacour scored the eventual game winner as he skated the puck through the neutral zone and past two defenders. He then passed the puck around a Crusader, collected it in the slot and scored his fourth of the season. Defensemen Matt Charbonneau and Frank Schiavone assisted on the play. Neither team scored in the second period as the Falcons carried a 1-0 lead into the final 20 minutes. Air Force out-shot Holy Cross, 13-3, in the final period, despite the Crusaders having six full minutes of power plays in the period. Mike Phillipich gave the Falcons a 2-0 lead at the 5:25 mark with a wrister from the right side. Ehn fed Phillipich in the neutral zone for the sophomore's 14th goal of the season. With two minutes, left in the third period, Phillipich drew a penalty on HC's Marty Dams, giving the Falcons a power play. Just 39 seconds into the power play, Air Force capitalized as Ehn won a faceoff and Greg Flynn fired a slap shot from the left point for his first career goal. Phillipich also assisted on the play. Air Force out-shot Holy Cross, 34-17, in the game. Holy Cross was 0-for-6 on the power play while Air Force was 1-for-4. The Holy Cross power play was 13th in the nation coming into the game. Worker made 17 saves for AFA while Charlie Lockwood made 31 for the Crusaders.