Air Force forward Kieran Durgan (88) defends as forward Shawn Knowlton (29) checks Denver defenseman Slava Demin into the boards Friday at Cadet Ice Arena.
Like a score of college hockey teams, Air Force has the DU blues.
It was a courageous move for Air Force hockey to open its season against the University of Denver’s perennially powerful program.
It wasn’t wise, but it was courageous.
DU destroyed the Falcons, 4-1, Friday night at quiet Cadet Ice Arena.
Air Force coach Frank Serratore wasn’t happy with much of what he saw. He was, in a way, happy with the score.
“It should have been worse,” he said.
He’s correct. Absolutely correct. The Pioneers dominated start to finish. The Pioneers look, as usual, ready to take a long, happy ride through their season.
If you despise DU, and I know many of you do, brace yourself for pain and disappointment in 2018-2019.
“Don’t kid yourself,” Serratore said. “That team has talent.”
Left wing Evan Giesler delivered the Falcons’ only happy moment when he scored in the second period.
“We didn’t match their intensity,” Giesler said, speaking accurately. “There’s no excuse on the first time all year to come out like that.”
The second time of the year arrives Saturday night when the Falcons take the short drive to Broadmoor World Arena to play Colorado College for the city championship. Air Force has won five of the last six against CC.
The Falcons will arrive at CC’s home ice as a humbled team. DU tends to have that effect on Air Force.
“They’re a great team.” Giesler said of DU. “They played really quick, played really fast. As a team, we can learn from them, honestly.”
The learning has been painful. The Falcons have transformed to a regional power in the past decade, but the transformation has stalled on nights against the Pioneers. DU has won 11 of the last 13 and has outscored the Falcons, 10-1, in the past two meetings.
Serratore was philosophical after the game. His team, he said, usually takes until January to fully jell. In practice and in a lackluster scrimmage against Alberta, he could see his Falcons were hindered by a long list of, using his words, “bad habits.”
He suspected Air Force wasn’t ready to challenge DU, and he was right.
He’s still working on changing bad habits to good habits.
Air Force’s night collapsed quickly. Jake Durflinger scored 2:25 into the game, and Ian Mitchell followed with a power-play goal six minutes later. The crowd went quiet, and the Falcons were on their way to getting slammed.
We’ll find out Saturday Night if that slamming brings out the best in the Falcons.
Or the worst.