Air Force Came Far, Has Farther to Go: College Hockey News

March 20, 2022
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by Anthony Travalgia/ CHN Reporter (@A_Travalgia)

UTICA, NY – A 7-0 loss in the conference finals is certainly not how Air Force wanted its season to end, but given the expectations coming in and what the program was able to accomplish from start to finish, it undoubtedly was a successful season for the Falcons.

“This year we were picked to finish ninth, and we finished second in the playoffs,” Air Force coach Frank Serratore said. “Give our guys credit, we’re a young team but we’re not an inexperienced team anymore. We’ve gained a tremendous amount of experience over the course of the year. ”

The Falcons had their ups and downs this season, but ultimately got better as the season went along. Part of that success later in the year was simply due to experience, something that with just one senior – goalie Alex Schilling – on the roster, the Falcons lacked at the start of the season.

“We grew all the way massively, through our lineup. We were a young, young, young, very inexperienced team and there’s not much you can do about youth, mother nature takes care of that, ”Serratore said.

“We’re gonna be older next year. As I always say, ‘you can buy everything at Walmart except experience.’ We didn’t have much experience at the beginning of the year. At the end of the year, we’re still a young team, but we’re a very, very experienced team, but it didn’t look like that tonight. ”

Of all the Atlantic Hockey’s coaches, none know better than Serratore does about what it takes to build a championship program, get to a final and win it. Air Force’s loss to AIC was its first under Serratore in eight trips to the Atlantic Hockey final.

“I’ve never had to give a bad speech after a losing effort in a championship game, that’s the first time it’s ever happened to us,” Serratore said. “Are we better than we showed tonight? I’d like to think so. We weren’t the last man standing, but we were the second to last man standing. ”

With this core group being as young as they are, it’s a group that should be right back in the thick of things next season, experience and age finally on their side.

The Falcons’ biggest challenge will certainly be trying to replace Schilling in net, the heart and soul of their team, and a big driver of their success.

“It’s not easy, obviously he came in as a sophomore and kind of stole the show. Last year, did the same and then this year we don’t make it here if we don’t have him, ”forward Brandon Koch said. “Obviously he’s a big piece of the puzzle, but any of the three goalies we have obviously can step in.”

As lopsided as their loss in the final was and the pain that comes with it, you could without the confidence and excitement towards the future from Serratore and the players who spoke following the loss

‘When you look at the future, we’ve got everybody back for the most part except [Schilling]obviously he’s a big piece of the puzzle, obviously we’re going to have to replace him, ”Serratore said.

“Not only are we going to come back good, we’re going to come back better.”

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