2024 Air Force vs Army - Men's

Air Force Offense Has Falcons Flying High

Air Force Offense Has Falcons Flying High

With four wins through five January games, the Air Force Falcons have soared into the third spot in Atlantic Hockey.

Jan 23, 2024 by Jacob Messing
Air Force Offense Has Falcons Flying High

With four wins through five January games, the Air Force Falcons have soared into the third spot in Atlantic Hockey.

The Falcons opened 2024 with a sweep of their name counterpart, the Bentley Falcons, utilizing a 3-1 win and barn-burning 7-3 victory in the second half of the series.

They hung another six goals on AIC in a 6-2 win the following week.

With another 15 goals over the weekend, the Falcons swept academy rival Army West Point at Tate Rink of West Point with a scorching 8-1 win and hung on for a 7-6 victory for the sweep, even after a four-goal third period by the Black Knights.

The Falcons have scored six or more goals in four of their past five contests and have posted series sweeps on their past two road trips.

“For a while there, we couldn’t buy a goal,” Falcons head coach Frank Serratore said. “But we were getting chances, and we told the boys to be patient and stick with it, and eventually they’d start to fall.”

The sweep earned Serratore his 500th NCAA victory, as well as his 450th and 451st wins as head coach of Air Force.

The Falcons sit at 10-5-1 in Atlantic Hockey (13-12-1 overall) and seven points back from conference leader Sacred Heart, while holding three games in hand.

“You don’t get there by yourself,” Serratore said. “It’s a team record, and I hope that all my coaches, all my former coaches, my present players, former players, the administrators I’ve worked for, I hope they all take some satisfaction and joy in that number, because they all contributed.”

The 15-goal barrage on Army was brought on by nine goal scorers, while 17 skaters earning at least a point in the series.

Senior defenseman Luke Rowe added two goals and three assists for five points, matched with defenseman and team leading scorer, Chris Hedden’s five assists during his sophomore breakout.

Junior Clayton Cosentino added three goals and an assist in the series, establishing a career-high nine goals this season. He’s two points shy of his freshman mark of 24 points (seven goals, 17 assists).

Freshman defenseman Will Staring scored his first career collegiate goal, and his three points of the season all have come over the past four games.

Senior Jacob Marti tallied his first goal of the season in his 10th game.

Sophomore Mason McCormick, freshman Brendan Gibbons, sophomore Holt Oliphant, and 2022-2023 leading scorer senior Will Gavin each added three points over the weekend.

Heading into the weekend, Air Force was 14th nationally in penalty kill percentage. The Falcons successfully killed 8 of 9 power plays for the Black Knights (88.8%) and tallied two short-handed goals, while lifting their season percentage of 84.7% and 11th place in the NCAA.

On the other end of the ice, the Falcons scored on 5 of 8 power plays (62.5%) during the weekend, lifting their man advantage average to 21.9% on the season and 20th nationally.

“Our penalty killing has been good all year, and our power play, we’ve been getting chances – pucks just haven’t been going in at times,” Serratore said. “Our goaltending has been good, and our special teams have been good. I’ve never coached a scoreboard, and there’s a reason for that. Sometimes, the score is not indicative of the play.”

Serratore referred to his Falcons’ matchup with Army, where he credits his goaltending and offense for the 8-1 victory, despite a balanced matchup in which his team was outshot 41-39.

Serratore then shared a moment from his Saturday night he says was a first in his 31 years of coaching in the NCAA.

“After I talked to our guys, I walked down to the Army side and asked Coach Riley if I could talk to his team,” Serratore said. “I went in there and told them how proud I was. Eventually, we’re all gonna be on the same team and involved in things that are bigger than just sports.”

Serratore mentioned the perseverance of the Knights, who fell to a 5-0 start the night after an 8-1 loss, but refused to “pack it in” and instead used a strong back half of the game, and four-goal third period, to end with a 7-6 loss via an empty-net goal.

The Falcons took all four games over Army this season – the first time in Atlantic Hockey history one academy claimed four wins over the other in a single season.

Don’t miss a second of the Air Force hockey team in action. Livestream every Atlantic Hockey game – and much more – right here on FloHockey, all season long.

Have a question or a comment for Jacob Messing? You can find him on Twitter @Jacob_Messing.