Air Force head coach Frank Serratore has never been what one would call “shy” and, in fact, has no problem keeping a room laughing with commentary and story telling. Serratore kicked off the Northeast Regional in Worcester on Friday with a solid dose of ethnic humor.
Of Italian decent, Serratore noted that he’s not the only “paisano” who will be behind the bench in Worcester this weekend. Minnesota’s Don Lucia and Miami’s Enrico Blasi also posses Italian surnames. Said Serratore, “The last time there were this many high-ranking Italians in one place, J. Edgar Hoover was there.”
He also didn’t spare commentary from the one non-Italian coach at the regional, Irish-American Jerry York, head coach at Boston College.
“You have Jerry York out here taking on the Sopranos,” said Serratore.
He also wondered why the NCAA selection committee didn’t put New Hampshire, with Dick Umile as head coach and Marty Scarano its athletic director, in Worcester as well.
“If we had Umile and Scarano here, the FBI would have all the tickets.”
Ehn to Play
Air Force senior center Eric Ehn, a 2007 All-American and one of the three finalists for last year’s Hobey Baker, will be in the lineup on Saturday. Ehn was injured on January 19 versus Colorado College when he fractured his left fibula and had what at the time was thought to be season ending surgery on January 22.
Serratore said that he met with Ehn and the trainers after Friday’s practice and decided at that time that he’ll suit up against Miami.
“We didn’t ask him if he wanted to play, I asked him what are you going to be able to do for us tomorrow,” said Serratore. “Basically, I said ‘I dont expect you to single-handedly lead us to the promised land. I want to know are you going to be better than our 12th forward.”
Phillipich Gets the Lemon
Air Force junior Mike Phillipich will be dressed in yellow for the opening practice of 2008-09, the penalty for losing the team’s showdown at the end of practice on Friday.
The Falcons finish the final practice before each weekend with a penalty shot competition and the final player held scoreless becomes the team’s lemon. As the lemon, the player wear a yellow helmet and yellow socks for each practice (which certainly standout against the Air Force blue). The only way to shed the bright color is to score in the team’s next showdown, which unless Air Force does the unthinkable and advances to the Frozen Four as the tournament’s lowest seed, means Phillipich will begin next season wearing yellow.
When asked what happens if a senior becomes the lemon at the final practice of the year, Air Force sports information director Dave Toller said, “They become lemons for life.”
The Falcons will definitely have three passionate fans in the stands on Saturday afternoon, as a trio of last year’s Air Force seniors are now stationed at Hanscom Air Force Base, located less than an hour from Worcester.
Andrew Ramsey, Peter Foster and Ben Worker – all members of the 2007 Air Force team that came within a half-dozen minutes of upsetting Minnesota in last year’s NCAA tournament – are all stationed at the base and will be part of an alumni reception that’s being organized before the game.
Serratore noted that the academy has a large contingent of alums spread throughout the country.
“When you’re the Air Force Academy, you’re never really the road team,” said Serratore.