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Air Force freshman forward Ty Pochipinski (18) battles for the puck against Trinity Western's Julian Uhryniuk (12) during the Air Force Academy Falcons men's ice hockey exhibition 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)

Last season, Ty Pochipinski had a vested interest in Colorado College winning the Pikes Peak Trophy. This weekend, he’ll be actively trying to prevent that from happening again.

“It’s been a crazy year,” he said.

The Springs native first enrolled at Colorado College. He followed his father, a former Tiger, there and appeared in four games, scoring on his first shot on goal Oct. 20 against New Hampshire. He left for juniors midway through the season and landed with the British Columbia Hockey League’s Penticton Vees (three goals, three assists in 18 games.)

Air Force, which wanted him initially, reentered the picture. He'd have three years of eligibility left and would sit out his senior year at the academy.

When Air Force hockey reached out to Colorado College to secure his release, coach Frank Serratore said the Tigers expressed no issues with Pochipinski.

“This kid’s been an absolute joy to have around,” Serratore said. “He’s a very useful player. His greatest strength is that he doesn’t really have a weakness. He is pretty good at everything.”

“He’s just a little hockey player. Hockey’s in his veins.”

The first attempt to play Division I hockey in the Springs may not have worked out, but the second has proven to be a good fit. Pochipinski has carved out a place in the Falcons’ bottom six forwards, appearing in all 28 games.

“The choice was the choice at the time. I’m just glad things fell the way they did now,” Pochipinski said.

“I’m really glad to be here. No problems with my decisions.”

He said it won’t be weird seeing the Tigers across the ice during introductions Friday at The Broadmoor World Arena and Monday for the Faceoff at Falcon Stadium.

“Being in the hockey lifestyle, you have to be used to guys being traded, playing against guys you know,” Pochipinski said. “It’ll be good to see them on the ice and maybe say hi afterward.”

He has four assists with the Falcons but hasn’t found the net yet, though he’s come achingly close. An outdoor game in his hometown provides the backdrop for a memorable first.

“I can’t think of a better time,” Pochipinski said.

“For a lot of reasons, it’s going to be a big weekend for him and his family,” Serratore added.

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