If there’s one constant Air Force hockey coach Frank Serratore can rely on during this weekend’s road series at Holy Cross, as he has all season, it’s the special teams.
The Atlantic Hockey Association-leading Falcons (4-5-1, 4-1-1) have Division I’s sixth-best power play at 27.1 percent (13-of-48) and are tied for eighth with Notre Dame at 89.1 percent (41-of-46) on the penalty kill.
That mark includes a 9-for-9 performance in last weekend’s home series.
“We have our most experienced players in those areas,” Serratore said. “We’re not reinventing the wheel there.”
Two Serratore can rely on are juniors Scott Kozlak and Blake Page, who have been paired together on the kill since their freshman year.
“We know each other and know where we’ll be (on the ice),” Kozlak said.
Kozlak and Page embrace the team’s aggressive style.
“It’s all about energy,” Page said. “We just try to create havoc.”
Of course, an aggressive penalty kill can bite you if the goalie isn’t up to the task. Of late, senior Andrew Volkening certainly has been. Volkening has seen his stats improve from 5.91 goals against and a .805 save percentage in the first four games (0-4) to 1.96 and .936 in the last six (4-1-1).
“Your best penalty killer is your goalie,” Serratore said.
“He’s been there to bail us out,” Page said.
The power play has been quite good as well, led by Jacques Lamoureux (three power-play goals), Jeff Hajner (three), Matt Fairchild (two), who also plays on the penalty kill, and freshman Kyle DeLaurell (two).
Holy Cross special teams are in the bottom half of the 58 Division I teams with a 41st-ranked power play (5-of-35, 14.3 percent) and a 31st penalty kill (29-of-36, 80.6). Still, the third-place Crusaders are only a surprise home loss to Sacred Heart (5-4 Saturday) from being tied for first place.
Holy Cross junior Jordan Cyr was the AHA player of the week with 11 points (five goals) last weekend while freshman goalie Thomas Tysowsky (3-3-1, 2.56, .905) has started seven of the past eight for the Crusaders (3-4-1, 3-2-1).