Air Force was set to play Army for the Atlantic
Hockey championship last March, and Serratore decided to
give Volkening his first start in four months.
"I was actually pretty surprised,"
he said, "but at the same time I was really excited
for the opportunity."
It turns out Serratore knew what he was doing.
Volkening kept Army off the scoreboard for nearly 53 minutes
and stopped 23 shots as Air Force won 6-1 and advanced to
its first NCAA tournament.
Volkening almost worked his magic a week later
as he backstopped Air Force to a 3-1 lead midway through
the third period before Minnesota rallied for a 4-3 triumph
in the West Regional semifinals.
"It always helps out when your coach
has confidence in you," Volkening said. "It just
makes you want to work even harder."
That's why it's not unusual to see Volkening
training by himself at the Cadet Ice Arena, working on his
skating and mobility, and simulating game situations.
"Some guys were made to be ice hockey
goalies, and Andrew Volkening is one of those guys,"
Serratore said. "He has a passion for the position."
Playing with more confidence than he even
showed as a rookie, Volkening picked up where he left off
last season and lifted Air Force to a pair of huge wins
– some would say upsets, outside of Colorado Springs,
of course – over No. 14 Quinnipiac. He made 26 saves
in a 4-1 win on Friday and 21 stops in a 3-1 victory on
"We haven't had that kind of goaltending
this weekend for an awful long time," Serratore said.
"He made some big and timely saves. That was the difference
in winning two games."
Serratore said he's had a pretty good team
for three years, only the goaltending didn't match up with
the rest of the squad. The emergence of Volkening certainly
makes the Falcons a formidable threat to repeat as Atlantic
"We've been there (to the NCAAs) and
I think we can do it again," he said. "You never
know what is going to happen but I would love the opportunity
to make it there again and see what we can do. Last year
really felt like it slipped through our fingers."
Volkening made a slow adjustment to the college
game. "I think a big thing that I am learning is just
being out and aggressive and not finding myself back in
the paint if I don't have to be," he said. "We're
a good defensive team. We don't allow a lot of shots and
I think the defense is doing a good job of keeping stuff
to the outside where we can be successful."
Volkening is happy with his decision to attend
Air Force and accept the military commitment that comes
"Air Force, everything about it is first
class, from the education to the program to the coaches,"
he said. "I just decided that I wanted to go in this
direction with my career and with my life. It was too good
an opportunity to pass up. It's putting myself through college
– I don't have to pay anything."
As a behavioral science major, perhaps Volkening
probably understand the dynamics of a locker room better
than others. There's a lot of rap music played in the Falcons'
quarters, but Volkening prefers quiet and solitude –
kind of unusual for a guy who likes Nine Inch Nails, Death
Cab for Cutie and the Matthew Good Band.
"I think everybody sees what's going
on and respects my space and everything," he said.
SEEN AND HEARD IN ATLANTIC HOCKEY
Thanks for the effort: Air
Force coach Frank Serratore was thrilled to take two games
from No. 14 Quinnipiac and pleased with the effort.
"We're good at home," he said. "We
played hard. We're a tough team to beat and a tough team
to play against, especially tough if you don't match our
work ethic. We were the harder-working team (against Quinnipiac)."
Serratore said those two wins will mean little
if the Falcons drop their conference season-opening series
at Bentley College this weekend. "Bentley is a tough
place to play," Serratore said. "I don't want
to get ahead of myself. Two games does not make a season."
Air Force is relying on an experienced lineup.
The Falcons used just one freshman on their first three
offensive lines. Serratore said once Josh Print returns
from a high ankle sprain, he should regain his spot on one
of the top units.
Serratore praised the play of defenseman Greg
Flynn, who scored twice from the point and set up another
goal against the Bobcats – Flynn was named the Atlantic
Hockey player of the week for his efforts.
"He is without question our top guy on
defense," Serratore said. "He plays in every situation.
He has the ability to play 30-35 minutes a game if we need
him to do that.
No advantage without Tim:
Some spies I know watched Army battle RPI last weekend,
and they say the Black Knights are certainly missing the
quarterback efforts of Tim Manthey on the power play. Army
has scored just once in 14 man-up opportunities (7.1 percent).
With Manthey running the point the past two
seasons, Army improved from a woeful 8.8 percent without
him in 2004-05, to 12.9 percent and then to 15.6 percent
Manthey transferred to a Division III school
No homecoming for Lundin:
Mercyhurst goalie Matt Lundin, a highly touted transfer
from Maine, injured his shoulder in the season-opening loss
to Ohio State, popping out his shoulder twice. He is expected
to miss six to 12 weeks.
"There are no complete tears, but there
might be a slight tear in the labrum, but I'm not sure,"
Lundin told the Erie News Times. "It's more loose than
anything, just maybe some muscle tears and small things."
Talk about poor timing — Mercyhurst
had a two-game set scheduled at Maine for the following
weekend and Lundin had to sit out.
Coach Rick Gotkin now has to turn to freshman
Ryan Zapolski. He made 33 saves in his first start against
No. 11 Notre Dame. In the Maine series he made 45 stops
on Friday and 34 stops on Saturday – the Lakers lost
to the Bears, 4-2 and 4-1.
Coors versus Sam Adams: The
NCAA prohibits gambling in all forms, but that probably
doesn't cover the friendly wagers Air Force coach Frank
Serratore has made with all of his New England counterparts
on the World Series. Obviously, Serratore is rooting for
the Colorado Rockies, while the hockey hub cheers on the
Boston Red Sox.
"There is a lot of pride being bet on
this series," Serratore said before the Rocks fell
into a 2-0 hole.
Sounds like Serratore is going to have to
order some Rocky Mountain refeshing Coors for his Sam Adams
pals – that is, if the chowder heads consider that
fair trade, afterall.
Great Weekend Getaway
Cross at Mercyhurst
Two seasons ago, we would've been talking
about a showdown between league leaders. Now it's
a matchup between two proud programs trying to climb
back among the league's elite. Holy Cross is coming
off an outstanding victory over Providence. The jury
is still out on Mercyhurst, which has lost all four
games thus far to top-20 teams.
While you're there: OK, maybe attending
the ballet is not quite in synch with ice hockey but
there have been players who have taken ballet lessons
in order to improve their balance and mobility. Anyway,
the Mercyhurst Dancers will perform "Leaps and
Bounds" at the Mary D'Angelo Performing Arts
Center on Saturday afternoon.
thing to knock off a top-15 team once on a weekend,
but Air Force performed the feat twice and surely
dismissed ECAC Hockey's Quinnipiac from the ranks
of the ranked.
FRIES AT THE BOTTOM
OF THE BAG
• Huskies are No. 1 – Connecticut
knocked off American International, 4-2, on Friday in the
only Atlantic Hockey league contest played thus far. Freshman
Andrew Olson scored twice in that contest and has four goals
thus far, leading all rookies. Last season Olson scored
18 goals with the Des Moines Buccaneers of the U.S. Hockey
League. Connecticut dropped a 4-3 loss to Massachusetts
• Connecticut hosts Army in a Saturday
matchup in Storrs. The last time the clubs met Army disposed
of the Huskies in the Atlantic Hockey semifinals.
• Big Red at Blue Cross – The
Blue Cross Arena in Rochester will play host to a Saturday
non-league affair between Rochester Institute of Technology
and No. 18 Cornell. It is RIT's first game at cross-town
Blue Cross Arena since 1986. RIT is ranked fourth in the
nation on offense and on the power play.
• Pioneers to open against Griffs –
Sacred Heart will host Canisius in a weekend series. Sacred
Heart won three of four meetings last season, winning both
• Matching ohs – Sacred Heart
dropped a 1-0 overtime decision at RPI. The Pioneers were
shut out just once in each of the last two seasons.
• Crusading through Hockey East –
Holy Cross toppled Providence, 6-4, for the program's third
win in four career contests against Hockey East schools.
The Crusaders beat Merrimack in Oct. 2006 and topped Massachusetts-Amherst
in Oct. 2005.
A variety of sources were utilized in
the compilation of this report. Ken McMillan can be reached