Three takeaways from Air Force’s 1-0 win over Army West Point:
History doesn’t repeat
In last year’s Atlantic Hockey semifinals, Air Force found itself in a similar position — clinging to a 1-0 lead late in the third period. The last time, the Falcons lost the lead in the final minutes and eventually the game in overtime to Rochester Institute of Technology.
“We had a young team last year,” said Air Force coach Frank Serratore. ” We were in the exact same position and that’s what I challenged the boys with in the last TV timeout.
“We were here with RIT … and we couldn’t get a puck out and it ended up in our net, and we end up losing in overtime. Last year, we didn’t get it done. (I told them) ‘This year is different and we’re going to get it done.’ And we went out and took the next step.”
Home away from home
Air Force is looking for its sixth Atlantic Hockey playoff title, and its first since 2012. Since the league moved its championships to Rochester, the Falcons are 11-2 at Blue Cross Arena. Both of those losses were in the semifinals (2010 and 2016). Air Force is 5-0 in AHC championship games (2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012)
One reason for that is Serratore’s team rising to the occasion in the postseason, where the Falcons are now 29-10 since joining Atlantic Hockey. Another reason is Air Force’s ability to win on the road. The Falcons are 13-5-2 this season away from Cadet Ice Arena.
“In the playoffs, if you want to be a champion, you have to come from behind and you have to win on the road,” said Serratore. “And you have to be able to win a 1-0 game and we found a way to get it done.
“Us playing in a neutral site, we relish that. We won 12 (now 13) games on the road so us coming to a neutral site, we’re fine with that. ”
Leaving a legacy
Army West Point came up short in its second consecutive trip to the semifinals, losing a 2-1 overtime heartbreaker to Robert Morris last season. But coach Brian Riley says it’s a credit to this senior class for getting the Black Knights to Rochester two years in a row and winning a combined 34 games the past two seasons after single-digit win totals in each of the four prior campaigns.
“Your legacy, you always want to leave a place better when you leave than you got there,” said Riley. “And man oh man, our seniors have certainly done that.”
Senior goaltender Parker Gahagen echoed his coach’s comments. “From where we started to where we are now, it’s been a great representation of our (senior) class. I think our goal was to make the team and our organization better, and I think we accomplished that.”