When it comes to defense, Air Force is all in.
Falcons hockey showed its commitment, recording 86 blocked shots in six games this season, led by junior defenseman Dan Weissenhofer with 12 (two per game) and 11 each from senior blue-liners Adam McKenzie and Jacob Musselman.
Not coincidentally, most came during the team's four-game winning streak, which was a good step in establishing a home ice advantage after going 9-6-2 at Cadet Ice Arena last season.
"We made a step in the right direction but now we have to take it on the road," Falcons coach Frank Serratore said.
That kind of defensive effort will be needed as the Falcons head into Atlantic Hockey Association play at The Rochester Institute of Technology (0-3-2, 0-0) on Friday and at Mercyhurst (1-5-1) on Saturday.
Ritter Arena (capacity 2,100) is well-known for being a loud, rowdy place with a devoted fan base regardless of the Tigers' record. A sellout is likely.
"RIT is a tough place to play," junior defenseman Mike McDonald said. "It is going to be a good experience for the younger players."
"It's fun," said senior forward Tony Thomas of South Lyon, Mich. "I grew up watching Michigan hockey games. RIT has a mini-version of that atmosphere at their rink. As an opposing player, you feed off that energy."
"They feed off the energy of their home crowd, like everyone does," Serratore said.
The Falcons (4-2, 2-0 AHA) can succeed on the road if they continue their defensive commitment.
"You can't do it halfway," Serratore said. "You're either all in or you're just screening your own goalie."
They can also hope to keep the 2,100 quiet if they can shut down the RIT power play, which is humming at a 29.2-percent clip (7-for-24). Mercyhurst is 6-for-41 (14.6 percent) with the man advantage.
Shutting those down means hitting the ice to block shots.
"It is part of our culture as it should be," Thomas said. "If you take away 10 shots a game, that usually means one or two fewer goals. That is usually a win."
Air Force's Cole Gunner and Jason Torf are AHA player and goalie of the month, respectively.