by Theresa Spisak/CHN Reporter
DENVER Despite a heartbreaking 4-3 loss to Minnesota, the Air Force Academy Fighting Falcons were able to take a few positives out of defeat as a result of the respect they earned.
"Our motto is, we want to be the most difficult team in hockey to play against, and I think we were tonight," said Falcons coach Frank Serratore.
Mike Vannelli of the Gophers agreed.
"It makes it even more tough [to win] when everybody hypes it up like we're supposed to kill this team or something like that and that certainly isn't the case," he said. "That was a good hockey team and obviously I think they showed that today and they played us tough for 60 minutes."
But the moral victories are hollow to the participants, especially when you consider Air Force led 3-1 with 10 minutes left.
"It's really tough tonight because we had the lead," said Serratore. "It's miserable trying to come from behind on teams like that and the recipe was there.
"I told my guys, 'Don't torture yourself because we didn't change anything. Minnesota changed something'."
"It's pretty hard," said Air Force captain Billy Devoney. "We knew our team could compete with Minnesota and to play such a good game and to have it come down to the wire like that, those are harder than anything because you've got that hope the whole time.
"But if you've got to do it, it's nice to get a crack at a team like Minnesota. They're a great team and they've got a lot of potential to take it all the way."
As a result of the game, Devoney and his fellow seniors have left a legacy for their teammates and future classes to come to follow.
"We've helped our team achieve something we could have for the past four years," said senior Andrew Ramsey. "I think we've inspired the younger guys below us that, to have a feeling that this is something an academy team can do and it's a great feeling to leave that legacy, not only for Air Force, but all the service academies out there."
"For those of you who wonder why service academies play Division I athletics, you just saw a good reason why; you saw a good taste of it right there," said Serratore.