Updated: November 14, 2012 at 12:00 am
Character, quality, class are words others use to describe Air Force junior goalie Jason Torf. The Hermosa Beach, Calif., native is in the midst of his third season as a starter and Friday he became the 11th Air Force goalie to record 1,500 saves.
Torf, the MVP of the Atlantic Hockey Association Final Four in March, led the Falcons to AHA titles in each of his first two seasons and is on pace to finish as one of the academy’s top goalies. The recent milestone is something Torf appreciates, but he’s determined to achieve bigger goals.
“Getting a win in the NCAA Tournament is No. 1 on my list,” said Torf, who is majoring in aeronautical engineering. “It’s definitely a good feeling of accomplishment and something I’m proud of, but it wasn’t something I was constantly watching. It’s a good testament to the fact that I’ve been able to play here as a freshman and play with reasonable consistency.”
From circus-like flexibility and lightning-quick reflexes to mental toughness and consistency, the 6-foot, 183-pound netminder is the total package.
“He’s got really good hockey sense, and he anticipates and tracks the puck very well,” Air Force coach Frank Serratore said. “As a goaltender, one of the keys to his success is his consistency. He doesn’t beat himself very often, and he’s consistent mentally.”
Torf enters next weekend’s series against Connecticut with a 27-18-9 record with eight shutouts. This season he is 3-4-3 with a 2.36 goals-allowed average and a .922 save percentage.
He set a school record with a 1.73 goals-against average last season, which was fourth-best in the nation. His .929 saves percentage also set a school record.
“He just has the ability to make big saves,” said junior defenseman Adam McKenzie, who is Torf’s roommate on the road. “When you have the ability to make some big-time, game-changing saves that can flip the momentum, that’s big, and that’s what he can provide for us. You can tell he really wants to win and wants to be the guy who makes the big save.”
Torf has been faced with his share of adversity, missing 14 games last season due to a left groin injury and contending with a hamstring injury early this season. The time on the sideline helped make Torf even more appreciative of his time on the ice.
“There’s really no feeling more painful than having to sit in the stands and watch a game where your team’s not doing so well, knowing you have the ability to help the team,” Torf said. “It put things in perspective for me and made me enjoy being on the ice more once I did get back.”
Hockey has always been a refuge for Torf, who began playing roller hockey at age 5 and transitioned to the ice at 9.
“Hockey’s helped me get through times where I just needed to go out on the ice and forget about the rest of life,” he said.