This Week in Atlantic Hockey: Oct. 25, 2007

Flying High

In its opening weekend, Atlantic Hockey went 0-9-1 in non-conference play. This past weekend, AHA teams were a more respectable 4-9 if you count Canisius’ exhibition win over Manitoba in the consolation game of the Maverick Stampede tournament.

Teams again came close in other contests, with Sacred Heart losing 1-0 in overtime at Rensselaer and Canisius yielding the winning goal to Alabama-Huntsville with just four seconds to play.

While Holy Cross scored an impressive win at Providence, the highlight was certainly Air Force’s sweep over Quinnipiac, which came into the weekend ranked 14th in the country. The 4-1 and 3-1 wins garnered the Falcons enough votes to be just outside of the Top 20 on this week’s poll.

The sweep brought about a pair of milestones for Falcons coach Frank Serratore, who won his 150th game behind the Air Force bench on Friday, and his 200th overall on Saturday.

“They only talk about milestones when you win,” Serratore joked. “I’ve got some milestones for losses, too.”

Serratore is 200-281-33 in his 15 seasons as a head coach, but his team has shown improvements the past two seasons, chalking up 19 wins last year and expected to be near the top of the Atlantic Hockey standings come March. Dating back to last season, Air Force has won eight of its last nine games with the only loss coming to Minnesota in the NCAA tournament.

While the games last weekend had similar scores, Serratore said there were differences.

“(Quinnipiac) was better on Saturday,” he said. “Look at the shots in the third period (10-3 in favor of the Bobcats). We gave them a lot of power plays.”

But it was the Falcons who scored twice on just those three shots in the third period to open a 3-0 lead. Defenseman Greg Flynn got the Falcons’ third goal, his second of the weekend. Flynn had scored just once in 57 games prior to last weekend’s contests.

The star of the weekend was sophomore goaltender Andrew Volkening, who made 48 saves on 50 shots in the pair of wins.

“Our goalie was really good,” said Serratore. “I wouldn’t say he was the difference in winning, because I thought we were good enough to win one game, but he certainly was the difference in our sweeping because he played so well in both games. We have holes to fill and things to get better at, but good goaltending can hide those holes.

“That was our problem last year. We had an eighty-six save percentage early in the season. We were giving up the fourth fewest shots in Division I and losing games by a goal. We struggled and then Ben Worker got us going after Christmas, and then Volkening played well in the (Atlantic Hockey) championship game and against Minnesota.

“He was a freshman last season and needed time to adjust and he has.”

Serratore says his team is thrilled at the quick start, but most now focus on league play, which begins this weekend at Bentley.

“It was nice to get the sweep but it means nothing if we lose in Boston,” he said. “If you told me I could be 2-2 after two weekends, I would much rather win the Bentley games because it’s all about getting points in the league.”

Watching on the WWW

Atlantic Hockey entered into an agreement with B2 Networks to broadcast video of every league game over the Internet this season. According to league Commissioner Bob DeGregorio, early indications are that the service is a hit.

“We’ve already sold the most season tickets for any league in its first year with the network,” he said. “We’ve also sold the most single game tickets so far for any new customer.”

That’s pretty impressive when you consider that B2 also carries the WCHA and the AHL.

“We’ve been exploring this for a while,” said DeGregorio. “Our league’s not on television that much. Our job is to try and get as much exposure as we possibly can. When you look at our league and how spread out it is, where the parents are located. Most can’t come to every game. We’ve had a good response from alumni as well.”

Bruce LeVine, Senior Vice President of Sports at B2, is happy as well. “We’ve had a history with the league since we carried the championships last season,” said LeVine. “It’s going very well so far.”

LeVine says that his company is looking into offering archives of games so fans can go back and see ones that they may have missed.

“Expect something in the next few weeks on that,” he said. “We want to make sure we’re delivering a quality product.”

Fans can get a season pass for every game their team plays for $79 or order a single game for $6. For more information, check out the league’s B2 Page.

Weekly Awards

Player of the Week for October 22, 2007:
Greg Flynn — Air Force

The junior defenseman from Lino Lakes, Minn., got the Falcons off to a good start in both of their wins against Quinnipiac. He scored the opening goal on Friday in a 4-1 victory and assisted on the first goal of the game on Saturday. To cap off a successful weekend, Flynn also got Air Force’s final goal in the 3-1 win. Prior to this past weekend, Flynn had a total of one goal in 57 games.

Goaltender of the Week for October 22, 2007:
Andrew Volkening — Air Force

The sophomore stopped 48 of 50 shots to lead his Falcons to a 3-1, 4-1 sweep of 14th-ranked Quinnipiac.

Rookie of the Week for October 15, 2007:
Andrew Olson — Connecticut

Olson lit the lamp four times in his first two collegiate games, scoring twice each night in a 4-2 win over AIC and a 4-3 loss at Massachusetts. He’s already a little more than a third of the way to breaking the all-time freshman scoring record at UConn: 13 goals set by Chris Myhro in 2005-06.

Around the League

American International: AIC has played just one game so far (a 4-2 loss to Connecticut) but is off until October 30 when the Yellow Jackets travel to Quinnipiac. The Bees can have success if they can play a full 60 minutes — UConn scored all four goals within a span of 2:18 in the second period.

Bentley: The Falcons have only 32 total penalty minutes in their first four games, ranking them near the bottom of Division I with just eight minutes per game. Last season, Bentley was third in the nation, averaging 22.6 minutes.

Canisius: The story for the Golden Griffins continues to be the play of its underclassmen, who are accounting for almost 80% of its goals so far. Freshman Vincent Scarsella had three goals and an assist and was named to the all-tournament team at the Maverick Stampede tournament in Omaha, Neb.

Holy Cross: The Crusaders’ win over Providence was their third in their past four meetings with Hockey East opponents. Holy Cross beat UMass 3-2 in 2005, and defeated Merrimack 2-1 last season.

RIT: The Tigers play Cornell Saturday in Rochester’s 12,000-seat Blue Cross Arena, site of last season’s and this season’s AHA championships. It will be the Tigers’ first game there since 1986, and it probably won’t be the last. Over 300 people were turned away from last Friday’s game with Bowling Green at RIT’s 2,100-seat Ritter Arena.

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