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RAMSEY: Air Force plans to avoid college hockey chaos

May 31, 2011
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Chaos could soon arrive in the long placid world of college hockey, but Air Force has no plans to join the frenzy.

The Big Ten hockey conference will begin in 2013-2014, which means the Western Collegiate Hockey Association will lose Wisconsin and Minnesota and the Central Collegiate Hockey Association will lose Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State.

An eruption of change seems likely with a frenzied chase to reorganize conferences.

Air Force coach Frank Serratore laughed when he considered the scenario, one that might include new conference destinations for Colorado College and the University of Denver.

“There is going to be a lot of change,” Serratore said. “Where is everybody going to end up when the rats start to scurry?”

One thing seems clear:

The Falcons aren’t going anywhere.

For the past five seasons, Air Force has dominated the Atlantic Hockey Association’s postseason, earning four trips to the NCAA Tournament.

This success might suggest it’s time for the Falcons to seek a more prestigious conference, perhaps alongside CC and DU. There is considerable appeal to the three Colorado teams battling each other in a conference.

But that’s not in the plans, say Serratore and athletic director Hans Mueh. And it’s not even very tempting.

Serratore looks to Michigan Tech, which is trying – and failing – to find success in the rugged WCHA. The team, Serratore said, gets “so demoralized” from tangling with national powerhouses.

Meanwhile, Serratore said, Air Force gains “confidence from playing in a conference that is challenging but not overwhelming.” Serratore is quick to point out the Falcons have only won the AHA regular-season title once in the past five seasons.

Serratore is clearly proud of the AHA. The conference lacks the WCHA’s depth and might, but the AHA has proven its merit on the national stage.

In Air Force’s four trips to the NCAAs, the Falcons have lost by one goal three times (twice in overtime) in the first round. In 2009, Air Force stunned Michigan in the first round before falling in double overtime to Vermont.

In 2010, AHA representative Rochester Institute of Technology rode all the way to the Frozen Four.

Serratore is not tempted to chase more glamour. He’s happy where he is.

Make that extremely happy.

“To be honest with you, what’s wrong with my life right now? Not a whole lot,” he said.
Mueh said he had been contacted by Bowling Green athletic director Greg Christopher, who asked if the Falcons might be interested in joining the CCHA.

Mueh took the question to Serratore, and the men discussed the idea. They chatted very briefly before dismissing any thought of change.

“Who can argue with four out of five years in the NCAAs?” Mueh asked. “Why would we switch?”

Good question.

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