Luke Manning

Air Force freshman forward Luke Manning (19) gains possession of the puck as Trinity Western's Tyler McMinn (10) closes in during the Air Force Academy Falcons men's ice hockey season opening game against the Trinity Western Spartans of Langley, British Columbia, Canada at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., on Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019. (Chancey Bush/ The Gazette)

The source of Air Force’s goals remains to be seen.

The Falcons weren’t lacking for them Sunday.

Half of their already anemic goal scoring graduated last spring. Returning leading goal-scorer Kieran Durgan only registered an assist as the Falcons controlled an 8-0 exhibition win over Trinity Western that amounted to target practice.

“We scored more tonight than we scored the whole season last year,” coach Frank Serratore quipped.

It was hardly an indication of what’s to come as Air Force opens the regular season next weekend at No. 10 Notre Dame. But it certainly wasn’t a bad sign for the Falcons.

Freshman Willie Reim and senior Erich Jaeger each scored twice. Goaltender Zach LaRocque spent the first two periods in net and faced just eight shots. Alex Schilling saw four in the third period and three more in a for-show 3-on-3 overtime, then stopped both attempts in the ensuing shootout.

It was more than seven minutes into the second period before the Spartans, who lost across town at Colorado College 4-1 the previous night, registered their first shot on goal. Including the five-minute overtime, Air Force outshot Trinity Western 76-15.

“It’s tough to go back-to-back at altitude,” Serratore said.

“It didn’t get chippy and cheap. We appreciate that.”

On the first goal, Reim picked up the loose change in front of the Spartans’ net. Freshman Luke Manning earned the primary assist. Among other rookie contributions, Brandon Koch, younger brother of last year’s co-captain Matt Koch, added two assists and fellow blue liner Dalton Weigel had an impressive helper in the third period.

Zach Mirageas put one in off the goal post just before the first-period break. Brady Tomlak set up Reim’s second goal, picking up a turnover at the blue line and distributing it.

“It’s hard not to notice when a player scores twice in his first career college game,” Serratore said.

Jaeger scored short-handed, then Blake Bride, a rookie out of Broomfield, slid in to deposit Jake Levin’s rebound and make it 5-0 in the third period. Tomlak, Jaeger again, then Trevor Stone scored to give Air Force its bloated regulation total.

The Falcons tried out a couple of different forechecks, per Serratore. They experienced 3-on-3 overtime and a shootout. They tasted success, albeit against an overwhelmed opponent.

“We accomplished all that we could possibly accomplish for tonight and now we put it behind us and keep it in perspective,” Serratore said.

“Obviously the speed limit goes up immensely next week.”

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