'Process-driven' Falcons open Atlantic Hockey play this weekend

October 24, 2013 Updated: October 24, 2013 at 9:20 pm

Air Force is focused on itself as it heads into this weekend's Atlantic Hockey Association opener.

The Falcons (2-2) host defending playoff champion Canisius (0-1, 0-1 AHA) Friday and take on defending regular-season champ Niagara (1-2-1, 1-0-1) at 4 p.m. Sunday. The visitors also play No. 17 Denver (2-2) this weekend.

"We need to be process-driven, not results-driven," Falcons coach Frank Serratore said. "We will go over game film and look for tendencies by Canisius and Niagara, but we still need to focus on improving our game."

One area that remains a work in progress is the AFA special teams.

The Air Force power play is 50th out of the 53 teams that have played - the six Ivy League schools start this Friday - with one goal out of 19 chances, a mark of 5.3 percent. In contrast, opponents have scored at a 25-percent clip (4 for 16) against the Falcons' penalty kill.

Fortunately for the Falcon faithful last weekend, goalie Jason Torf put in a remarkable series in 5-2 and 3-1 wins over the Big Ten's Penn State.

The senior made 59 saves against 62 shots for an eye-popping .952 saves percentage. That performance, which included only one even-strength goal, earned Torf AHA goaltender of the week honors.

"Torf had to play outstanding for us to get that sweep," Serratore said. "We cannot rely on him doing that every weekend. We have to continue to get better, especially on special teams."

There were positives to be seen in two wins, as one would expect.

One was that the Falcons took their competitive level of play up a notch after two tough losses in Alaska.

"You have that have that as a foundation before you can improve other things," Serratore said.

The top forwards are getting the job done as well with the line of juniors Cole Gunner (five points, three goals, the reigning AHA offensive player of the week), Chad Demers (five, four assists) and Scott Holm (two, one goal) accounting for 12 of the team's 28 points.

Canisius has one of the better AHA goalies in senior Tony Capobianco while junior Mitch McCrank assisted both goals in a 5-2 loss to Niagara on Oct. 12. The Purple Eagles are paced by junior forward Mike Conderman who has three points (two goals) in four games. Freshman goalie Adrian Ignagi (1-1-1, 1.84 goals against, .941 saves percentage) is the likely starter.

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