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Air Force Falcons kept believing through up-and-down hockey season

March 22, 2018 Updated: March 22, 2018 at 8:21 pm
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Air Force Falcons forward Erik Baskin (27) joins the group as they celebrate forward Evan Giesler's (15) goal as the U.S. Air Force took on Army West Point at the Cadet Ice Arena at the U.S. Air Force Academy on Friday November 3, 2017 in Colorado Springs. The Air Force fell short 3-2. (Photo by Dougal Brownlie, The Gazette).

As once-ranked Air Force languished around or below .500 before the Christmas break, there was frustration, but little despair.

The team had a history of second-half surges, and everyone knew it. They’d experienced it. But with all the injuries and questioning of motivation, it was a shaky time.

“You have your doubts at times. Nothing’s guaranteed,” senior Erik Baskin said. “We always knew we had the potential if we put the puzzle pieces together to get back to the NCAA Tournament.”

Junior Dan Bailey said they avoided making spring break plans, because there was that feeling.

“Among the veteran guys, we knew the second half of the season was going to be ours, and once the playoffs came, it was time for business,” Bailey said. “It was no surprise where we ended up.”

The second-half surge arrived as promised, with the Falcons going 10-4-2 in 2018. That got them to a tie for third in the Atlantic Hockey Conference, and that turned out to be more than enough to work with.

No matter what happens this weekend, the Falcons can be proud.

“I knew we had a good team – I knew we did,” coach Frank Serratore said.

“This might be the most gratifying one of all, just for what our guys have gone through. They just refuse to quit, refuse to die.”

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