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CC, Air Force hockey coaches look to past, future at annual event

September 26, 2017 Updated: September 26, 2017 at 9:52 pm
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photo - Broadmoor World Arena employee Will Sailor pours water over the CC Tigers logo at center ice Wednesday, September 14, 2016. Workers began flooding the arena floor Tuesday night to prepare the ice for the CC hockey season. Colorado College opens a Photo by Mark Reis, The Gazette
Broadmoor World Arena employee Will Sailor pours water over the CC Tigers logo at center ice Wednesday, September 14, 2016. Workers began flooding the arena floor Tuesday night to prepare the ice for the CC hockey season. Colorado College opens a Photo by Mark Reis, The Gazette 

The annual Sports Corp. College Hockey Faceoff Lunch took place Tuesday at The Antlers. Here are some takeaways from the event:

Air Force preseason favorite in conference

The Atlantic Hockey Conference released the results of its preseason poll Tuesday, voted on by the league's coaches, and Air Force was picked first.

Air Force received eight first-place votes, with second-place Robert Morris drawing two and fifth-place Canisius one.

Falcons coach Frank Serratore was "a little shocked" Air Force was picked first after the departure of goaltender Shane Starrett, but expected to be somewhere in the top three.

"I think it's a little bit of an inflated ranking, because we didn't lose much from last year, but we did lose our best player, and our best player in a key position," Serratore said.

Air Force was picked to finish second last season, when it won the AHC tournament and advanced to the NCAA Tournament. It's the fourth time in 12 years it has been the preseason favorite.

"I think the boys - my colleagues in the league - like to put the bull's-eye on us, and that's fine," Serratore said. "We know it's a tough mountain to climb and it's nice to be thought of as a contender and maybe the top contender. We believe we are too."

Life of the party

Serratore, entering his 21st season at Air Force, knows how to work a preseason lunch by now.

He cracked many jokes. He estimated how many combined days (two) he's spent listening to the national anthem during his long career.

He proudly announced that Air Force season tickets have sold out and described his current team many times as deep and old.

"We're at the top of our game," he said.

CC's Haviland breaks down previous season

Colorado College coach Mike Haviland spent time Tuesday giving a scouting report of sorts, and detailing where he thought the 2016-17 season - his third at the helm, with an 8-24-4 record - went off the rails.

The coach said his team was feeling good after last season's 3-4 start, then lost eight and tied one before the winter break. But Haviland said the Tigers were confident after winning the Florida College Classic just before the New Year, and then CC tied and beat conference foe Minnesota-Duluth in its next series.

After that, the team hit a "bump" and didn't respond well. Haviland said maintaining that confidence is something they'll work on.

"As a staff, we talked about really pumping them up, being positive every day, enforcing what we want to do and believing in one another," he said.

"We made some progress. I saw some glimpses of some really good things at times. I believe we were really close."

Serratore offered words of encouragement.

"You guys are going to turn the corner this year. No question about it," Serratore said to Haviland.

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