2022 Air Force vs Army - Men's

Atlantic Hockey Playoffs Preview: Army, Air Force Enter Academy Showdown

Atlantic Hockey Playoffs Preview: Army, Air Force Enter Academy Showdown

The Black Knights and the Falcons will meet for only the third time since 2020, in a clash of Atlantic Hockey's academy programs.

Mar 8, 2022 by Jacob Messing
Atlantic Hockey Playoffs Preview: Army, Air Force Enter Academy Showdown

Army West Point will host Air Force in a showdown between the military academies for a spot in the semifinals.

The No. 3-seeded Black Knights will host the No. 6-seeded Falcons for the best-of-three on March 11. Catch the series and the entirety of the Atlantic Hockey quarterfinals live, right here on FloHockey this weekend. 

The programs go head-to-head for the second time this season and just the third time since a match in January of 2020.

The Knights finished the regular season with a 12-11-3 record (14-15-4 overall) typically leaning on strong starts. The team went 11-1-1 when entering the second period with the lead and a combined 3-14-3 when trailing or tied. It’s a slight change to last year’s comeback kids, where slower starts were regularly erased by coach Brian Riley’s determined team.

Among those determined comeback kids was Colin Bilek. That year, Bilek led the conference with 15 goals and finished second with 21 points in 20 games. This season, the senior took a slight step back in goal scoring but led the conference with 31 points (11 G, 20 A) in 33 games. 

Outside of offense, the Knights wins largely hinged on the breakout of Gavin Abric. Abric entered the 2021-22 season as a sophomore, but had no action last season. He quickly erased the question mark that was goaltending for the Knights, finishing the season with a 13-12-4 record, 2.44 GAA, and .927 SV%.

With a first-round bye, a two-week rest should have Bilek, Abric, and the entire team rested and ready to compete in the quarterfinals.

But the Falcons are also ready for their chance at the semifinals and coach Frank Serratore’s orchestra is ready to show it can play. With just one regulation loss over their past seven games, the Falcons thrive on the “why not us” mentality.

An 11-12-3 conference record (13-16-3 overall) this year after just three wins in 13 games during the pod-based season shows the Falcons can play.

Sophomore Will Gavin’s 14 goals in 33 games were second in the conference and he showed the Knights first-hand his dangerous shot with a goal in their first meeting before a game misconduct in the first period. 

Gavin will be eager to bring his scoring touch back into the fold. With four other teammates reaching the 20-point mark this season, the offense has shown an ability to come from anywhere. In their first series with the Knights, Nate Horn, Parker Brown, and Clayton Cosentino each recorded three points.

The Falcons will need that depth to get through Abric and they would be best to test him early, both to wear him down and to recreate the success they’ve had with high shot volume and early goals.

Don’t miss a second of the action. Catch the entire series, and entirety of the Atlantic Hockey Tournament live, right here on FloHockey.

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