Updated: February 14, 2014 at 6:33 am
Air Force needs to bear down against road opponent Canisius to maintain its momentum headed into the playoffs.
"They will be tough," Falcons assistant Andy Berg said. "They sit back and trap and wait for you to make mistakes. We need to make sure we get in front of their goal. Sometimes in the past, we were content to stay outside and shoot which will not work."
Expect two close games. Air Force leads the all-time series 10-7-7 with 10 of the past 12 games decided by a goal or less. The Golden Griffins swept the host Falcons to end Air Force's season last spring. The Falcons won 3-2 at home earlier this season.
AFA enters this weekend's Atlantic Hockey Association road series against seventh-place Canisius (10-15-3, 9-9-3) with its sights set on placing in the top four and a strong chance to win the league regular-season title. Air Force (17-9-4, 12-6-3) is tied for third with UConn, and only one point behind second-place Bentley and three points behind AHA-leader Mercyhurst, which lost twice at Air Force last weekend.
The Falcons are in position to succeed thanks to the potent top line of juniors Cole Gunner (38 points, 14 goals), Cody Demers (37, 24 assists) and Scott Holm (23, 13 assists), which has at least one goal in 24 games and accounted for 40 percent of the team's goals and 39 percent of the points
While Demers and Gunner garner accolades, Holm's play is critical to the line's success.
A typical contribution is taking the puck from an opponent in the corner and passing out to an Air Force defenseman, who passes to either Demers or Gunner and often picks up the second assist.
"I just do what needs to be done," Holm said.
While AFA can bank on production from the top line, it needs more offensive balance from secondary scorers and more contributions from its power play to be primed for a postseason run, Berg said.
The Falcons are 1-8-1 when the other team's special teams outperform Air Force. Canisius has a power play humming at 23.5 percent in league play. Senior Kyle Gibbons, who has team highs in points (28) and goals (13) has eight power-play tallies.
The key to slowing down that power play may be who is in the Air Force net.
Coach Frank Serratore is considering playing senior Jason Torf, who is healthy after suffering a groin injury Dec. 30. The strong play of freshman Chris Truehl (8-2, 1.92 goals against, .924 saves percentage, three shutouts) has made the decision difficult. Serratore said the two may both start this weekend.