Fighting for Recognition
Air Force's Eric Ehn Quietly Makes a Name for Himself
by Theresa Spisak/CHN Reporter
Most years, Hobey Baker award candidates and leading scorers are from the big-name schools or, at the very least, one of the "Big Four" conferences.
Now and then, however, an unexpected name from an unexpected conference shows up. This year, that name is Eric Ehn, from Atlantic Hockey's Air Force Falcons.
Over the course of the year, the junior from Dexter, Mich., has quietly made his mark as the nation's leading scorer, ending the season tied with Michigan's T.J. Hensick at 62 points. His play has also made him a candidate for the Hobey Baker Award, given annually to the nation's top collegiate hockey player.
Ehn finished fourth in the first stage of fan balloting, aided in part due to a grassroots campaign by fiancÚ Abbey Craft.
"I really want people to recognize that he is a good person and he's a great leader and he's a good hockey player and he's never gotten that recognition," she said. "For a team like Air Force that doesn't have that kind of recognition, it would help. I think it helps a lot and to say, "Hey, here's a good hockey player who's doing really well and the team is working together wonderfully"."
As a result, Craft started a "VOTE FOR ERIC EHN FOR THE HOBEY BAKER AWARD!" group on the popular college Web site Facebook.com and printed out flyers which she gave to the guy who runs the chuck-a-puck at Cadet Ice Arena.
"I probably want him to win the Hobey Baker more than he wants to," she laughed.
"Just to get him to talk about like, 'Hey, you actually have a chance at this,' and he's like, 'Yeah, I don't know, there's a bunch of other really good guys out there,' and like, 'No, no, you really have a chance.' He really does give credit where it's due and if it weren't for his line and his teammates, he wouldn't be where he's at right now."
The recognition is starting to spread; linemate Andrew Ramsey was named a participant in the Frozen Four Skills Challenge event in St. Louis. The Falcons also have a chance to win the Atlantic Hockey championship this weekend in Rochester, N.Y., and punch a ticket to their first ever NCAA tournament.
Despite all this, there are many who discount what he has done given the conference he plays in. However, consider what Ehn has done in his out of conference games.
Ehn scored the Falcons' only goals in 2-1 losses to Colorado College and Denver and factored in three of the four goals scored in an 8-4 loss to Alaska.
While he didn't score in a 2-0 loss to Notre Dame in late October, "He was the best player in the game when we played [the Fighting Irish] — Jeff Jackson will tell you that," said Falcons head coach Frank Serratore.
"[Playing in Atlantic Hockey] doesn't diminish what he's accomplished at all," said Colorado College coach Scott Owens. "It's just maybe a little bit from exposure as far as television's concerned or as far as other people getting a chance to see him play. I think he should be an Eastern All-American on one of the teams and I think he should be a Top 10 Hobey candidate.
"I think he would be a top-three or top-four forward in the WCHA because of his skill and his talent, what he's accomplished and his experience and everything else."
If you ask Ehn himself what he thinks about being discounted given his conference, he'll take the high road and say he doesn't have a retort. But a rare bit of cockiness comes out of a normally very humble individual ("You have humble and then you have Eric," says Craft).
"I just gotta go out and play Air Force hockey every night and if that's not good enough for somebody on the other end of the country, then, oh well, I'm proud of what I've done," said Ehn.
He's mostly proud, however, because of what his scoring has done to help the team as well as what the recognition and honor can and will bring to his teammates.
"I think it was a lot of fun [being one of the nation's leading scorers]," said Ehn. "I certainly didn't expect it, but it happened and my teammates kept me humble throughout the whole thing so I appreciate that and I think the team's a little bit proud of it because last year we struggled to score points every night and I think this year as a team we've done a good job of it.
"I've gotten so much from the team here and the school that it feels good to give something back, get a little bit of press going for the school, help out with recruiting — whatever I can to help the team out."
If Ehn is indeed named a Hobey finalist candidate on March 15, his recognition, and that of the Falcons', will only continue to grow.