Air Force hopes its long holiday break will help it refocus on playing winning hockey and not just settling for ties.
The Falcons closed out the first half with an 0-2-4 record and found themselves outplayed by Atlantic Hockey Association foes Bentley and Holy Cross. Air Force (7-5-4, 4-2-3) last played Dec. 7.
Coach Frank Serratore laid the blame for the downturn, which included a loss and tie with No. 17 Denver, at the feet of AFA players and the coaching staff.
"We did not play well in a number of areas and when reviewing the tape we could see that we were outplayed and outcoached," Serratore said. "We had a long film session before the break and showed where we needed to improve."
It sank in.
"We saw what we needed to do to win," senior forward Jason Fabian said. "We are not satisfied with how we played entering the break."
Air Force is certainly not easing its way back into action with a berth in the Ledyard Bank Classic tournament in Hanover, N.H. The Falcons are a combined 1-24 all-time against the other three teams, including Sunday semifinal foe No. 16 Northeastern (10-5-2, 4-4-1 Hockey East).
The other semifinal pits host Dartmouth (2-10, 2-8 ECAC) and No. 5 Providence (12-2-3, 6-2-1 Hockey East).
"We get right back into it right away," senior forward Tony Thomas said. "We will need to play at a high level to be successful. If we don't, they will expose us."
The Huskies are paced by sophomore forward Kevin Roy, who is ninth in Division I with 24 points (13 goals). Junior goalie Clay Witt (1.97 goals against) is third in the nation with a .945 saves percentage.
Dartmouth leans on Big Green junior Eric Haley (10 points, seven goals) and sophomore netminder Charles Grant (2-5. 3.49 goals, .894 saves).
Providence is led by junior forward Ross Mauermann (25 points, 12 goals) almost double No. 2 scorer and left wing Nick Saracino (13, 10 assists). Mauermann is eighth in Division I in points. Friars freshman goalie Nick Ellis (2-1, 2.57 goals, .878 saves) will play with usual starter John Gillies (10-1-3, 1.88 goals, .941 saves) leading Team USA at the world junior championship.
The tournament is only the start of a full week (four games in seven days) with an AHA road series at American International (3-12, 3-6) on Friday and Saturday. The Falcons will stay back East since classes do not resume until the following week.
"It will be a good chance for us to build some team chemistry," Fabian said. "More importantly, this is a chance for us to win some games."