January hasn’t been especially kind to the Air Force Falcons, who have now have a 1-2-3 record since the start of 2019. With 10 games left in the regular season, the top teams of the Atlantic Hockey Conference have been playing leap frog for the top spot, but AIC has a four point lead in the points at this time.
Following the Ice Vegas Invitational, Air Force hosted Army West Point at home which resulted in a pair of ties. In terms of conference standings, it’s not all bad, as a tie results in a point for the standings, but January and February is really the point of the season where confidence and momentum can be built going into the AHC tournament.
Zack Mirageas and Matt Koch have done a nice job of captaining the offense, but the shots per game for the entire team have been hovering in the low 20’s in the last four games, which shows there has been a little bit of a departure from the team based offense that has given Air Force a lot of their success this season. In the last five games, Air Force hasn’t scored a single goal in the first period. The late comebacks may be indicative that they are playing timid early on, but are out-skating opponents late in the game. Luckily, these should be easy fixes for Coach Serratore to manage.
Air Force’s goalie Billy Christopoulos has stood tall this season, and he has had no problem making over 30 saves a game. It seems that if the Falcons can play aggressively from the first whistle, they should be able to regain the top spot in the conference before the tournament begins. The next two series are against Robert Morris and Bentley, the 7th and 8th teams in the conference currently. Following those games, they have Canisius, Mercyhurst, and Holy Cross to finish up the season. Air Force is 4-2 against those last three teams this season when they were facing injuries, so they should feel confident going into those games.
There’s still a lot of work to do to make it into the NCAA tournament, but there’s no doubt that the Falcons deserve a spot. As long as the Birds can stay healthy and get back to the basics of shooting a lot and scoring early, we will have an exciting next few months on the ice.