Air Force put together only its second weekend of strong league play a week ago. Coach Frank Serratore hopes the host Falcons can sustain that for the first time this season against Canisius this weekend.
It is even more important for the fourth-place Falcons to play well with consistency as they enter the final five weeks of the regular season, which includes series against five of the top six teams in the Atlantic Hockey Association, including the sixth-place Golden Griffins.
“I liked our effort (last weekend),” Serratore said. “We’ll see if it carries through.”
Losses and ties against Eastern pod teams, the bottom half of the 12-team league, makes Western pod Air Force’s battle for home ice in the postseason all the more challenging.
“We’re going to have to make up those (nine) points down the stretch,” he said. “We’re still masters of our own fate. We’ll get what we deserve.”
Canisius returns the defending league Player of the Year in Cory Conacher and has a veteran goalie in Dan Morrison.
“They’re a good team,” Serratore said. “Are they beatable? Certainly and they are capable of beating us. We just have to go out and get it done.”
The Falcons may split goaltending duties this weekend because freshman Jason Torf has struggled with fatigue playing two nights in a row. Junior Stephen Caple is the likely replacement.
Shoulder injuries to seniors Derrick Burnett and Brad Sellers may test the team’s depth, which has benefited from strong performances by its underclassmen. Five of the team’s top 10 scorers are freshmen or sophomores.
But depth and injuries mean little if the healthy Falcons don’t come out ready to play each game and sustain it for 60-65 minutes.
“Hopefully they’ve gotten their crap together,” Serratore said. “We will have to play with an all-out effort.”
Air Force (10-9-4, 8-5-4 Atlantic Hockey Association)
Offense: Sr. F Jacques Lamoureux (23 points, 14 assists); So. F John Kruse (20, 13 assists); Sr. F Derrick Burnett (19, 14 assists); Jr. F Paul Weisgarber (18, 11 goals); Fr. F Jason Fabian (15, eight assists); So. F Kyle DeLaurell (14, nine assists); Fr. F Tony Thomas (14, nine assists).
Defense: Jr. D Scott Mathis (16, 11 assists); Jr. D Tim Kirby (12, seven assists); Fr. D Adam McKenzie (12, nine assists); Sr. D Brad Sellers (nine, seven assists); Fr. G Jason Torf (7-6-2, 2.96 goals against, .907 saves percentage); Jr. G Stephen Caple (3-2-2, 2.91 gaa, .887 saves).
Canisius (8-11-5, 7-6-4 AHA)
Offense: Sr. F Cory Conacher (23 points, 14 goals); Sr. F Vincent Scarsella (22, 14 assists); Fr. F Kyle Gibbons (17, 10 assists); Sr. F Eric Rex (16, nine assists); So. F Preston Shupe (15, nine assists); Jr. F Scott Moser (11, seven assists).
Defense: Fr. D Ben Danford (17, 15 assists); So. D Wes Love (11, 10 assists); Sr. D Phil Rauch (seven, six assists); Jr. G Dan Morrison (5-10-3, 3.46 goals against, .902 saves percentage).