Players on the Air Force hockey team know they can't afford to overlook anyone.
This weekend's road foe, Holy Cross, became the first Atlantic Hockey Association team to defeat No.?9 Boston College in the league's 10-plus seasons. Holy Cross held on for a 5-4 road win thanks to 34 saves by junior goalie Matt Ginn (4-9, 3.01 goals, .908 saves) Friday.
"It's pretty big," Crusaders coach Paul Pearl said. "They're an excellent team and an excellent program. They do things right, how we'd like to kind of model ourselves."
The Eagles may have taken the Crusaders lightly, knowing they last lost to Holy Cross in 1946.
The Falcons will not make that mistake when they travel to the Crusaders (4-9, 3-4 AHA) in their final series before the holiday break. Eleven of the past 13 games between the teams have been decided by one goal or ended in a tie, including a 2-1-1 mark for the Crusaders over the past two seasons.
"It's definitely not a program we take lightly," Falcons junior forward Chad Demers said. "If we don't play our game we can lose to anyone. If we play our game, we have shown we can beat anybody."
Holy Cross' shocker follows a surprising win for the league when 4-10 Sacred Heart, which won two games last season, knocked off then-No.?1 UMass-Lowell in its season opener.
Those kinds of wins are not the rule this season with the AHA a combined 11-53-5 in nonconference play. Air Force (7-5-2, 4-2-1) is the only program with a non-losing nonleague record (3-3-1).
Heading into this weekend, the Falcons, 1-2-2 in their past five games, need to worry about their own level of play.
"We got away from playing a simple game and getting pucks to the net," junior defenseman Alex Halloran said. "(Coach) Frank (Serratore) does a good job pointing out opponents' tendencies but really it comes down to focusing on ourselves."