For a first-place team, the Air Force Falcons sure sounded impatient.
Coach Frank Serratore said he put forth a challenge to his team this week: “Evolve.” That involves scoring more, senior Evan Feno said. Finish checks and establish dominance. Answer Serratore’s repeated call to not rely on goaltender Billy Christopoulos so much.
Generally, just be better.
No better time to start than against Army this weekend.
“I’m pleased about where we’re at, but not how we got there,” Serratore said of the season’s first half. “We’ve got to play with more intensity, we’ve got to play faster.”
Feno added a few more objectives from a player’s perspective.
“Focus on each other, trying to help each other out,” he said. “Push each other to be better in the little areas we struggle with.”
The Falcons lead Atlantic Hockey by a mere point, and the Black Knights are three back. That’s a good, if precarious, place to be in. The Falcons trust in their recent history of second-half dominance, and want to use it to get closer to their eventual dream of a Frozen Four.
To get there, Air Force will need to win the conference tournament again and secure the automatic bid.
“We’re not going to do it unless we get better,” Serratore said. “We’re a long ways from being there.”
A second season series win against Atlantic Hockey and service academy foe Army would go a long way. The series is sold out, the teams’ history long and heated, so getting up for the games shouldn’t be an issue.
“I wouldn’t say we like each other, but we have great respect for each other,” Feno said. “It’s definitely going to be a battle. The seniors have a lot of pride on the line here, so I think it’s going to be a great series.”