Air Force to face Michigan in NCAA East Regional
March 22, 2009
AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. - Air Force, the three-time Atlantic Hockey Association champions, is the No. 4 seed in the East Regional of the 2009 NCAA Hockey Championships. The Falcons will face No. 1 seed Michigan, the No. 4 overall seed in the tournament, Friday, March 27 at 3:05 p.m. ET at the Bridgeport Arena at Harbor Yard in Bridgeport, Conn. The game will be televised live on ESPNU. Tickets for the East Regional will be available at 9 a.m. MT Monday, March 23 by phone at 1-800-666-USAF or online at www.GoAirForceFalcons.com. Tickets for all three games are $75.
Yale, the host school for the regional, is the No. 2 seed and will face No. 3 seed Vermont on Friday, March 27, at 6:30 p.m. ET. The winners of each regional advance to the Frozen Four, Thursday-Saturday, April 9-11 at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. The winners of the East and Northeast regional will meet in one national semifinal while the Midwest and West regional winners will meet in the other semifinal.
Air Force (27-10-2 overall) earned its third straight AHA championship with back-to-back shutout victories last weekend in Rochester, N.Y. Air Force defeated Bentley, 3-0, in the semifinals and then blanked Mercyhurst, 2-0, in the championship game. Goaltender Andrew Volkening stopped all 51 shots he faced in the two games and was named to the all-tournament team. Junior winger Matt Fairchild was named the tournament's MVP with three goals. Defenseman Greg Flynn and Scott Mathis were also named to the team. Michigan (29-11-0) fell to Notre Dame in the championship game of the CCHA Tournament Saturday night. Michigan has won 10 of its last 12 games.
Air Force and Michigan have only met once in the history of the two programs. Michigan defeated Air Force, 7-6 in overtime, in the Flint Tournament in Flint, Mich., Dec. 27, 1973.
The matchup with Michigan marks the second consecutive season that the Falcons will face a team from the CCHA in the NCAA Tournament. Last season, Miami came from behind for a 3-2 overtime win over Air Force in the 2008 NCAA Northeast Regional in Worcester, Mass. The Falcons made their first ever NCAA Tournament appearance in 2007 when Minnesota overcame a 3-1 deficit with eight minutes remaining in the third period to defeat Air Force, 4-3, in regulation. Air Force's last win over a team from the CCHA was a 2-0 win over Miami at the Nye Frontier Classic in Anchorage, Alaska in 2003.
Quotes from Air Force head coach Frank Serratore: "I am just happy to be in the round of 16. There are no easy draws this time of year. We are excited to play a BCS school like Michigan and we are looking forward to the challenge. I think we have represented ourselves and our league in the NCAA Tournament admirably. Going in as the No. 4 seed and playing a No. 1 we know we are getting a top team to play against. I am proud of the way we have performed in the last two NCAAs. There is no question that the experience we got that last two years is important. We need everyone to play well next week. Last weekend, Andrew Volkening did what great goaltenders do. He stopped the ones he had to stop. But I was most impressed with the play of our entire team. I know that Michigan is extremely fast. They can flat out go. But we skate well too. Michigan is a team with a lot of draft choices and they are very talented. You can't win these games in the first period, but you can certainly lose them, especially against the big boys. We want to have a chance to win the game in the third period ... have an opportunity to slay Goliath."
Quotes from Air Force junior goaltender Andrew Volkening We had a very business-like approach last week. We executed very well and it feels good. But we want to take the next step and advance in the NCAAs. I don't feel like I've been a very big part of where we are right now because the guys in front of me have been great. Most of the shots I've seen have been from the perimeter and I've seen them pretty well. There haven't been a lot of Grade A saves that I've had to make.
Quotes from Air Force senior right winger Mike Phillipich (Air Force's only player from Michigan) I grew up watching them play a lot, but being from Lansing, I was a Michigan State fan. We are looking forward to it. We've been there before, but we want to take the next step
Quotes from Air Force senior right winger Brent Olson You don't ever want to get complacent. We have set the bar high for ourselves and we want to achieve that. We don't just want to show up and make an appearance. We want to keep going. Volks is the backbone of our team. He keeps us together with the way he prepares and they way he stays focused and his dedication to the team. It is a total team effort, but we know if we make a mistake or have a mental letdown, Volks is there for us between the pipes. He is a great goaltender and he gives us great peace of mind. We have played a lot of big name teams before. We tied Minnesota and beat Denver last year. We beat Colorado College this year. I give Michigan all the respect that they deserve, but we won't be intimidated. I don't think Michigan will overlook us. You don't get to be the program that Michigan is by overlooking anyone. Everyone has earned their way into this tournament. Just like last week, this is do or die hockey and we have a bunch of guys that do well in those situations.
Quotes from Air Force sophomore center Jacques Lamoureux This is where we wanted to be right now. We talked about it even before the season started. But we are not going there to play a game. We are going there to win. When it comes down to it, you will have to beat the top teams at some point in the tournament whether it is early or later. Coach will give us a game plan and it is up to us to execute it. Michigan has some big-time explosive players. You have to try to take away their time and space, finish checks and block shots. If we to that, we'll have a chance to win.
Lamoureux On being a Hobey Baker finalist I am humbled to be considered in that tier with that all those great players. I never thought I'd be considered. When my brother (Jean-Phillipe) was a finalist last year, he said that this would be my year to be a finalist. But with team success comes individual success. Look at all the awards that the guys got at the tournament. That's because we are playing together as a team. I give the credit to my teammates and especially my linemates, Josh Frider and Brent Olson. To me, this is more of a team award than an individual award.