Falcons open season at Sacred Heart
Oct. 8, 2008
This Week The back-to-back Atlantic Hockey Association champion Air Force Falcons will open the 2008-09 regular-season on the road as the team travels to Milford, Conn., for a two-game league series with Sacred Heart, Oct. 10-11, at 7:05 p.m. ET each night. The first regular-season home series is Oct. 17-18 vs. Bemidji State at the Cadet Ice Arena.
Radio/Internet The Sacred Heart series will not be broadcast on GoAirForceFalcons.com or on the radio in the Colorado Springs area. However, both games will be video streamed with audio by the B2 Network on a subscription basis. For more information, please go to the Atlantic Hockey Association web-site at AtlanticHockeyOnline.com. No television.
Falcons Defeat Alberta in Exhibition Game
Air Force scored two power-play goals in the final 2:12 of the game as the Falcons defeated the University of Alberta, 3-1, in an exhibition college hockey game Sunday, Oct. 5, at the Academy’s Cadet Ice Arena. Air Force outshot Alberta, 18-3, in the first period but the game was scoreless after one. Just 11 seconds into the second period, Brent Olson scored from Josh Frider for a 1-0 Falcon lead. Less than five minutes later, the Golden Bears tied the game when Ben Kilgour put back a rebound. With Air Force on the power play late in the third, freshman Scott Mathis fired a shot from the right point that got through traffic and beat Cyr for a 2-1 Falcon lead with 2:12 remaining. Shortly after the ensuing faceoff, Alberta’s Eric Hunter received a five-minute major elbowing penalty for hitting Falcon sophomore Jacques Lamoureux in open ice, putting the Falcons on the power play again. And again, Air Force capitalized. With 24 seconds remaining in the game, Jeff Hajner’s wrister from the right circle beat Cyr as teammate Matt Fairchild provided the screen in front. Air Force outshot Alberta, 43-12, in the game. Cyr made 40 saves for the Golden Bears. Falcon junior goalie Andrew Volkening made 11 saves. AFA was 2-for-8 on the power play while killing all six Alberta man-advantages.
Atlantic Hockey Preseason Poll The back-to-back Atlantic Hockey Association champion Air Force Falcons were the preseason choice by the league’s coaches to win the AHA in 2008-09, as announced at the AHA annual media day at the Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, N.Y. Being the coaches’ choice to win the league is a first for Air Force hockey. The Falcons collected seven of the possible nine first-place votes and 79 of the possible 81 total points in the poll. Mercyhurst was picked to finish second with one first-place vote and 70 points. RIT collected the other two first-place votes and 68 total points to finish third in the poll. Sacred Heart was fourth (55 points) followed by Army in fifth (40). Holy Cross was sixth (38), Canisius was seventh (34), UConn was eighth (29), Bentley was ninth (26) and AIC was 10th (11 points).
Preseason National Poll Air Force is among the others receiving votes in both major preseason polls. Based on the number of votes, Air Force was No. 21 in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine national poll and No. 22 in the USCHO/CSTV poll. This marks the second straight season, and the second time in school history, that Air Force received votes in the preseason poll. AFA was also 20th last season in the same poll last season. In the final poll at the end of the 2007-08 season, Air Force was No. 20 in the USCHO/CSTV poll and No. 16 in the final USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll.
Scouting the Opponent Sacred Heart (Fairfield, Conn.) was picked to finish fourth in the league in the preseason AHA coaches poll. The Pioneers return 20 of 25 letterwinners from the team that went 14-11-3 in the AHA last season and placed fourth. Sacred Heart lost in the first round of the AHA Final Five to Mercyhurst, 4-1. Senior forward Bear Trapp is the top returning scorer from last season with 13 goals and 40 points. Senior goaltender Stefan Drew returns after a stellar junior season in which he posted a 2.83 goals-against average and a .908 saves percentage.
Series with Sacred Heart Air Force leads the all-time series with Sacred Heart, 5-1-3, in the series that begun in 2000. As Atlantic Hockey opponents, AFA leads the series 2-1-2. Five of the nine games in the series have gone into overtime. Last season, the teams split a two-game series at Sacred Heart in the teams' only meetings in Connecticut.
Season Openers Air Force is 18-19-3 overall in season openers. The Falcons are 11-12-1 when opening the season on the road. Last season, Air Force opened the season at home and swept then 14th-ranked Quinnipiac at Cadet Ice Arena. The Falcons split their first road series last season at Bentley. The Falcons are 4-5-2 in season openers under Frank Serratore.
Looking Back Air Force became the first team in Atlantic Hockey Association history to win back-to-back conference championships. The Falcons defeated RIT, 5-0, in the semifinals to record the first shutout and largest margin of victory ever in an AHA semifinal game. The Falcons then defeated Mercyhurst, 5-4 in double overtime, in the second longest tournament game in league history. Including the AHA quarterfinal round, AFA outscored its opponents, 22-7, in the four games. Air Force made its second consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament and for the second consecutive time, lost a one-goal game to one of the top teams in the nation. In 2007, Air Force led Minnesota, the overall No. 1 seed in the tournament, 3-1, with just over eight minutes left. The Gophers came back for a 4-3 win. Last season saw the Falcons take Miami, the overall No. 2 seed in the tournament, into overtime, before falling, 3-2. AFA led 2-1 with seven minutes left in the third period. Miami tied the game on the power play and then won the game just under five minutes into the extra period.
Who's Back The top six scorers and 11 of the top 13 return for the 2008-09 season. Also, four of the team’s top six defensemen and starting goaltender all return. Junior Andrew Volkening played every minute in the second half of the season and set new school records with a 2.09 goals-against average and a .911 saves percentage. Senior Greg Flynn, a second-team all-conference defenseman last season, returns to lead the defensive corps along with returners Michael Mayra, Brett Nylander and Brad Sellers. Those four defensemen did not miss a game during the season. Senior Brent Olson and junior Jeff Hajner tied for the team lead with 38 points. Flynn, who ranked fifth in the nation in scoring by a defenseman, had 31 points. Junior Matt Fairchild had 29, senior Josh Frider had 27 and sophomore Derrick Burnett had 26. Air Force returns 84 percent of its goal scoring (109 of 130) and 80 percent of its points (294 of 366) from last season.
Who's New The Falcons added seven newcomers to the roster this season. Sophomore Jacques Lamoureux was on the team last season, but unable to play due to NCAA transfer rules. The Grand Forks, N.D., native played at Northern Michigan in 2006-07. The Falcons add six freshmen to the mix this season, three defensemen, two forwards and a goaltender. Three of the six freshmen come from the USHL. Defensemen Mark Williams (Potsdam, N.Y./Cornwall Colts/CJHL), Scott Mathis (Crystal Lake, Ill./Cedar Rapids Rough Riders/USHL) and Tim Kirby (Austin, Minn./Southern Minnesota Express/NAHL) will look to fill some holes in the Falcon defense due to graduation. Forwards Paul Weisgarber (Fargo, N.D./Waterloo Blackhawks/USHL) and Greg Burgdoerfer (Setauket, N.Y./Des Moines Buccaneers/USHL) along with goaltender Stephen Caple (Rice Lake, Wis./Westside Warriors/BCJHL) will all battle for playing time.