Feel This Year for Air Force and Army
You would think a series pitting service academy
rivals Air Force and Army, with home-ice playoff implications
at stake and a national television audience on Saturday,
would ramp up the pressure but Air Force coach Frank Serratore
doesn't feel that way.
Force's Eric Ehn, the nation's leading scorer, will
be featured on CSTV on Saturday, as the cable network
airs a contest between Air Force and Army.
As far as he's concerned, it's easier to focus
on the team immediately ahead of his own.
"The focus has been readjusted because
of the league, the points and the standings," said
Serratore, whose Air Force team joined Atlantic Hockey this
season after years in College Hockey America. "You
still have all that other (rivalry) stuff, but above all
else right now we are playing a team above us in the standings
and we have a chance to gain ground on them."
Army and Air Force have played a weekend series
every season since 1989-90, alternating home sites, and
this marks only the second time the games have impacted
league play – Army was a member of CHA in 1999-2000.
Frankly, Serratore says, the non-conference
meetings had much more at stake.
"A lot of years it's been two teams that
haven't had winning records, and everything stemmed on winning
the service academy series," Serratore said. "To
be honest, I feel pressure every weekend but I don't feel
quite the pressure when it was just the two non-conference
Army and Air Force are two of the most surprising
story lines in Atlantic Hockey this season. Army (10-8-3,
10-5-3) sits in third place with 23 points, two points behind
RIT and one behind Sacred Heart. Air Force (11-8-5, 8-3-5)
is in fourth place, with two games at hand on Army. The
recent past has not been kind for either program –
Army has had just one winning season (2002-03) in the past
six; Air Force has just one winning season (1999-2000) since
Serratore took over in 1997-98.
The home teams have held serve the past two
seasons, but Army won three of the previous four at Colorado
"They are great games," Serratore
said of the rivalry. "The teams play hard against each
other. The games are extremely competitive, and yet when
it's all over there is, somewhat, a feeling of camaraderie.
After the alma maters and we shake hands, the teams salute
the fans together, a little show of unity."
SEEN AND HEARD IN ATLANTIC HOCKEY
Rough seas for the Lakers:
Mercyhurst coach Rick Gotkin has lost a bit of his zip as
his team meanders through a 10-game winless streak but he
continues to put forth a brave face and looks forward to
pulling off a couple upsets in the league tournament.
Mercyhurst (4-16-4) has suffered some huge
personnel losses. Leading scorer, center Ben Cottreau (11-12–23),
has missed seven games with a concussion suffered in the
Dec. 16 game at Maine. "It was a clean hit," Gotkin
said, "and Benny was knocked out even before he hit
His status is still game to game. Winger Scott
Champagne (8-9–17) was shelved for the second time
this season, having missed the last five games with a groin
Sophomore goalie Tyler Small left the team
last month, stating the game was no longer fun. Small played
14 games this season (3-8-3, 4.04, .896) and 36 in his career
(17-14-4, 3.25, .911). His last outing was Dec. 8 as he
gave up four goals on 20 shots in a 5-2 loss to RIT. Gotkin
started the freshman Small in the final 12 games of last
season, leading Mercyhurst to an 8-3-1 finish and a berth
in the Atlantic Hockey semifinals, where Small made 53 saves
in 81 minutes in a 3-2 double-overtime loss to Bentley.
Most clubs would be in serious trouble with
a prominent defection in net, but the Lakers have seniors
Mike Ella (28 games, 16-9-1, .901, 3.53) and Jordan Wakefield
(30 games, 8-16-2, .910, 3.34) in relief.
Atlantic ascension: Air Force
is enjoying its first season in Atlantic Hockey, sitting
in fourth place – the Falcons were picked for fifth
in the preseason poll. "It's a battle every night,
for everybody," said Air Force coach Frank Serratore.
"There is a lot of parity in our league. You don't
see many blowouts. The teams that execute … generally
There is longer travel for Air Force, with
frequent trips to the East coast but it's not so bad.
"We're not the Bus Force; we're the Air
Force," Serratore says. "We get on an airplane,
flight attendants give us sodas and we watch movies for
three and a half hours. I'd rather do that than drive from
West Point to Buffalo."
The Falcons have fared well on the road. On
a recent six-game roadstand, Air Force went 3-1-2.
"To be honest, I think (going on the
road) is relaxing," Serratore said. "For service
academy teams, I know our guys love to get on the road and
get away from the grind here (on campus). They get a bit
more rest, and it's more pure hockey."
FRIES AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BAG
Great Weekend Getaway
at Air Force (Fri.-Sat.)
College hockey's only service academy rivalry pits
two teams battling for home-ice playoff position within
Atlantic Hockey. A flu bug is going through the Air
Force locker room, adding troubles to a team making
regular visits to the training room for injury rehab.
Air Force leads the all-time series 23-15-2, but Army
has scratched out three wins in the last six games
at Cadet Ice Arena.
While You're There: Dress warmly
because the weather forecast calls for a slight chance
of snow and temperatures hovering around 15 degrees.
There's a writers' conference in town and a Japanese
New Year "Mochitsuki" (rice cake pounding)
on Saturday morning at Colorado College, but who are
we kidding? Bring the skis.
CSTV, for finally providing Atlantic Hockey
coverage. The all-college network will air
Saturday's Army-Air Force game at 8 p.m. EST. Sure,
the top-rated schools hail from the Big Four conferences
and monopolize the national TV avails but it's only
fair that the league with the largest population swath
in the land receives a little air time. A reminder:
take a minute during the broadcast and give thanks
to the brave young men on both sides of the ice who
are serving their country and protecting our freedom.
was at stake, so emotions were high, but 30 penalties
were whistled in Saturday's matchup between Rochester
Institute of Technology and Sacred Heart. Ten infractions
were coincidental calls, but the rest just made for
halting hockey. Some people call it rugged hockey;
others call it just boorish behavior.
• A first for first: RIT junior goalie
Jocelyn Guimond posted his first collegiate shutout as the
Tigers upended Sacred Heart, 4-0, on Friday. He stopped
30 shots on Friday and added 32 saves on Saturday in a 6-3
triumph. The weekend sweep, RIT's fourth of the season,
propelled the Tigers into first place by one point.
• With margin to spare: AIC's 6-1 win
over Bentley on Friday was the Yellow Jackets' third win
of the season and its largest margin of victory since storming
Connecticut, 8-3, on Feb. 16, 2003, when the teams were
playing in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Hockey
League, a span of 122 games.
• Toss a hat: AIC's Jereme Tendler posted
his first career hat trick (and added an assist) in the
6-1 win over Bentley. It was the 76th collegiate outing
for Tendler. It was the first hat trick of the season for
any AIC player, and the first since C.J. McConnell notched
three against Army in a 2005 playoff win.
• Six is enough: Army had six different
players score in its 6-3 win over Mercyhurst on Friday.
The last time the Black Knights achieved that feat was a
7-3 win at Connecticut on Oct. 21, 2006.
• Swinging the broom: Army's weekend
sweep, over Mercyhurst, was its third in Atlantic Hockey
action. The Black Knights also dispatched Connecticut twice
(Oct. 20-21) and AIC (Nov. 3-4), in addition to the exhibition
openers with Ryerson (Oct. 6-7).
• Close is not enough: With its 2-1
loss at Army on Saturday, Mercyhurst fell to 1-5 in 1-goal
decisions and is 1-6 in 2-goal games.
• Smart, on and off the ice: Connecticut
senior Matt Scherer earned $25,000 with his recent appearance
on the television show, "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire."
Scherer answered correctly on 10 questions before
answering incorrectly on the $50,000 question. The question
which stumped Schrerer was: The Guinness Book of World
Records measures the world’s fastest talkers based
on how quickly they recite what? A) Twas the Night Before
Christmas, B) "To be or not to be" soliloquy,
C) The Gettysburg Address, D) The House That Jack Built.
Scherer guessed C but the answer was B.
• Looking ahead: Bentley and Mercyhurst
play a two-game set in Erie. The last
time Bentley faced Mercyhurst the clubs engaged in an 81-minute
playoff game, with Jaye Judd's goal at 20:58 sending Bentley
to the Atlantic Hockey championship game. Bentley had lost
the previous five meetings. The Falcons are 0-5-1 in their
last six games in Erie, their last win coming Feb. 1, 2003.
... Connecticut and host RIT renew their rivalry for the
first time since 1994-95. RIT owns a 5-2 series lead. The
Tigers have won three in a row, five of six and 10 of their
last 12. The Huskies have alternated wins and losses for
the past eight contests. ... Separated by just 53 miles,
AIC travels to Worcester to face Holy Cross for the only
time this season. Holy Cross has won three in a row in the
series and is 13-0-2 in the last 15 meetings. AIC’s
last win over the Crusaders was Jan. 4, 2002, 4-3 in Worcester.
... Host Dartmouth is coming off a 4-0 win over Holy Cross
as it entertains Canisius on Friday and Sacred Heart on
Saturday. The Big Green disposed of Sacred Heart, 4-2, last
A variety of sources were utilized in
the compilation of this report. Ken McMillan can be reached