Air Force hockey team ranked No. 17

February 20, 2017 Updated: February 20, 2017 at 6:41 pm
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photo - Air Force right wing Jordan Himley, left, celebrates with right defense Kyle Mackey after scoring a short-handed goal against Canisius during the second period at the Cadet Ice Arena at Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)
Air Force right wing Jordan Himley, left, celebrates with right defense Kyle Mackey after scoring a short-handed goal against Canisius during the second period at the Cadet Ice Arena at Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock) 

Air Force moved up two spots in the latest U.S. College Hockey Online poll to No. 17. It's the program's highest ranking in almost five years.

The Falcons (21-8-5, 18-5-3 Atlantic Hockey Conference) were ranked No. 16 in April 2012.

AFA is also tied for 15th with Hockey East's Notre Dame in the Pairwise rankings, which mimic the NCAA Tournament selection process.

At this point, the Falcons still need to win the AHC playoffs championship to garner the program's sixth automatic NCAA berth.

Air Force player of the week

Sophomore forward Evan Giesler recorded the first Falcons' hat trick in two years during Friday's 4-2 win at the Rochester Institute of Technology to garner The Gazette's AFA player of the week honor.

The Illinois native is third on the team with 26 points (17 assists).

Colorado College player of the week

Freshman center Kade Kehoe set up sophomore defenseman Cole McCaskill's tying goal in a 2-2 tie against then-No. 1 Minnesota-Duluth to garner The Gazette's CC player of the week honor.

Kehoe, flanked by left wing Trevor Gooch and right wing Wes Michaud, led what was arguably the best CC line this past weekend as it combined for two points and played with energy on defense.

Falcons battling for league title

Air Force is in position to win its third regular-season title in program history.

The Falcons trail first-place Canisius by one AHC standings point.

Depending on the result of the Golden Griffins' regular-season finale on Thursday, the Falcons may need to sweep Sacred Heart.

Air Force can finish no lower than secondin the conference.

Tigers hope to build on tie

CC will likely finish at the bottom of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference standings for the third season in a row. But the Tigers say they do not feel like a last-place team.

"Certainly if you look over the 65 minutes of the game, our compete (level) was there and our will to come back and not give up was there," CC coach Mike Haviland said. "You can play with anybody when you have the belief between your ears."

Entering the final four regular-season games, top-ranked Denver has a two-point lead in the standings over UMD with a maximum 12 points available. That makes it likely, though not certain, CC will travel to DU, which has won 12-straight against the Tigers (7-20-3, 3-14-3), to open the postseason.

Ice chips

Sacred Heart defenseman Ruslan Rakhmatov will miss Friday's game against Air Force while serving the second contest of a two-game league supplemental suspension for a hit to the head in last Friday's loss to Bentley. ... The Tigers have recorded a power-play goal in three straight games (3 for 19, 15.7 percent), an improvement over 10.8 percent entering this past weekend. ... CC's 16 shots in Saturday's third period were the most since 16 against Nebraska-Omaha in a 4-2 home loss on Jan. 14 (eight games).

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