Goaltending transition key to Air Force’s success

At the beginning of last season, Air Force coach Frank Serratore was asked whether he was going to start other goalies instead of relying solely on then-senior Andrew Volkening, who had played almost every minute of every game over the past two seasons. After all, life without his workhorse goaltender would begin the next year.

“I don’t worry about it one bit,” Serratore said at the time. “I’m going to play the goalie that gives us an equal to or better chance of winning. If that’s Andrew Volkening, so be it. As someone once told me, ‘Worry about this year this year, and next year next year.'”

Now, next year is here, and Serratore agrees that his team’s fate will be strongly linked to whomever fills Volkening’s skates.

“We won 16 games last season, and the main reason for a lot of those wins was Andrew Volkening,” he said.

Competing for the job in net will be junior Steve Caple (63 minutes played last season), sophomore David Bosner (17 minutes) and newcomer Jason Torf, who was sixth in the NAHL in save percentage (.914) last season.

“The job’s wide open,” Serratore said. “Nobody’s stepped forward to grab it.”

“I don’t think we need a goalie to stand on his head to lead us to the promised land. Just a 90 percent save percentage.”

Back for their senior and junior campaigns, respectively, are a couple of league all-stars: Jacques Lamoureux, who was a Hobey Baker finalist two seasons ago, and defenseman Tim Kirby, who put up 24 points last year.

“Overall, I think we’re a stronger team than last season; a much deeper team,” Serratore said.

The Falcons failed to reach the NCAA tournament for the first time in four seasons last year, and the road back will be tough thanks to a difficult non-conference schedule and a revamped league schedule that has the Falcons playing three games against the top teams in the coaches’ preseason poll.

“It’s the toughest schedule we’ve ever had,” Serratore said. “Fairbanks, Anchorage, Denver, CC, Denver, Yale and Clarkson.

“We’ll know more about where we stand come Christmas time,” he said. “By then, we’ll know what we’ve got.”