Air Force Soars to Third Straight Title
CHN Staff Report
ROCHESTER, N.Y. Colorado Springs is home for Air Force but the Falcons sure don't mind playing at Blue Cross Arena at the War Memorial in Rochester, N.Y.
Air Force made it 3-for-3 in the Atlantic Hockey Association championship, blanking Mercyhurst College 2-0 in the title game on Saturday.
"I guess this time of year we become the Rochester Falcons," Air Force coach Frank Serratore said.
"There's a reason we've won three championships, and it ain't coach Frank waving his magic wand. Great players win championships."
Jacques Lamoureux and Matt Fairchild scored the goals, and goalie Andrew Volkening made sure the Lakers didn't score. He stopped all 25 Mercyhurst shots for his second shutout in two days. He made 26 saves in Friday's 3-0 semifinal victory over Bentley.
"You have so much confidence when you have a strong goaltender behind you," Air Force defenseman Greg Flynn said.
Air Force joined the AHA in 2007 and has earned the conference's automatic NCAA bid each season by winning tournament at the War Memorial. The seedings will be announced this morning.
"Who'd have ever thought that when Greg Flynn signed up to come to Air Force and his brother (Ryan) went to Minnesota that he'd play in more NCAA tournaments," Serratore said.
A year ago, the Falcons defeated Mercyhurst 5-4 in double overtime. In Saturday's rematch, the Lakers weren't nearly as competitive.
"Last year it was anybody's game," Mercyhurst senior defenseman Kirk Medernach said. "Tonight, Air Force was all over us."
Mercyhurst simply wasn't able to generate the same intensity or offensive pressure that carried them past Rochester Institute of Technology 5-4 in overtime in Friday's semifinals.
Air Force jumped ahead 1-0 on Lamoureux's tip-in goal just 3:02 into the game. When Fairchild connected on a rebound 1:11 into the second period, the Falcons rolled.
"Our energy, emotion and body language was way different than it was (Friday)," said Mercyhurst coach Rick Gotkin, whose club finished 22-15-3. "We didn't have great energy, great emotion."
Mercyhurst is the top-scoring team in the country but was unable to mount anything resembling an attack.
"I couldn't be more proud of our team," Serratore said. "I told our guys the difference in the game would be how many chances do we give them. We couldn't afford to let the fire get lit. We had great accountability. I don't think we gave up an odd-man rush."
In last year's title game, Mercyhurst set a tournament record with 22 second-period shots on Volkening. On Saturday the Lakers managed only 25 shots in the game.
"By keeping them to the perimeter and letting 'Volks' come out and get big, we were able to lead them to feelings of frustration," Flynn said.
Fairchild was voted the tournament MVP. Battling the flu all week, he scored twice in the semifinals and finished with three goals.
"We're going to see if it's legal to inject him with some sickness before the NCAAs," Serratore joked.
Fairchild, a junior, disagreed with the MVP voting, however.
"I thought it should have went to 'Volks,' he was the best guy, hands down," Fairchild said.
Which is why Fairchild handed the trophy to his goalie on the ice.
"That tells you a little about Matt Fairchild," Serratore said.
Kevin Oklobzija contributed to this report.