2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner
  • Noonan to Leave AFA

    Mon, March 30, 2009 by admin with 4 comments

    Air Force freshman men’s basketball player Trevor Noonan has decided to leave the academy at the end of the academic year.

    The departure will deliver a significant blow to a program hoping to rebuild around youth after going 10-21 in 2008-09.

    With a 6-foot-9 frame and the skills of a perimeter player (outside shooting, passing and ball handling), Noonan was the most promising member of Air Force’s freshman class. He emerged as a contributor late in the 2008-09 campaign, scoring eight and 11 points, respectively, at UNLV and BYU in the Falcons’ final two regular season games.

    But Noonan said he felt Air Force was not the right fit for him and he’d been weighing a decision about whether to leave since returning from Air Force’s holiday break.

    “I guess when I came here I didn’t really know what to expect in terms of the school,” he said. “I’ve gotten through it to this point, but a lot of the decision in leaving is I don’t think this is the school for me, especially three more years here and five years (of a military commitment) after. I have a lot of respect for everyone who’s able to put up with everything and wants to be here, it’s just not where I want to be. … In terms of basketball, we didn’t have the season we’d hoped for, but that’s not why I’m leaving.”

    Noonan had an up and down first season. After playing 17 and 15 minutes in the Falcons’ second and third games of the season, respectively, Noonan’s playing time was sporadic. He played in just seven of the Falcons’ first 13 games of the Mountain West Conference season and in those games logged 37 minutes.

    Part of the reason for his limited playing time was he was shifted from forward to center and back to forward.

    “We sort of messed Trevor’s mind up early in the season,” Air Force coach Jeff Reynolds said prior to the MWC Tournament. “He had to learn two spots in our offense, and it’s hard for a freshman to learn one spot in what we do. I’ve told him on numerous occasions, ‘That’s my fault.’ I really wanted to get him minutes, and it ended up getting him less minutes.”

    Asked if playing time played a role in his decision, Noonan said: “No, not really. I was getting minutes toward the end of the year, especially the last five, six games. I respect coach Reynolds, and as many times as we had problems – most of the time we got along fine. He said he’d play people for how they earned it, and by the end of the season, I guess I earned playing time, and I’m thankful for him giving me the chance to play here.”

    Noonan said he is undecided about where he will transfer.

    “Right now I’m just looking at all my options for next year,” he said. “I have options of where I’d like to go, but I don’t have any set plans.”

    Noonan said he needs to get a release from Reynolds before he can have contact with other coaches.

    One potential landing spot for Noonan could be the University of Denver, which recruited him out of high school.

    “I’d like to stay close to home, but I’m not sure yet,” said Noonan, a Broomfield native. “I haven’t had any contact with schools because of NCAA rules. That’s a school I’ll look into, but right now I don’t have any idea.”

  • Sunday Morning Links

    Sun, March 29, 2009 by admin with no comments

    Air Force hockey’s 3-2 double overtime loss in the East Regional Final is going to sting for a long while.

    For my game story about the Falcons loss to Vermont, click here. My notebook is here.

    And click here for a story about the game from The Burlington Free-Press.

  • More on Air Force-Vermont

    Sun, March 29, 2009 by admin with no comments

    First things first: The officials got it right.

    I haven’t yet seen the replay, but I’m told by multiple people – including some from Air Force – that the controversial goal at the end of tonight’s Air Force-Vermont game (which gave the Catamounts a 3-2 victory and a trip to the Frozen Four) was in fact was a goal. The puck did go into the goal and through the net.

    But what a bizarre way for a game to end.

    Quick recap: Air Force and Vermont are tied at two and about three-quarters of the way through a second overtime period when the Catamounts’ Dan Lawson rips a shot from the blue line. It heads right at the goal and slams into the glass behind the goal.

    One of the officials, Marco Hunt, sees the net move, but play continues for another minute and 49 seconds, when there’s a stoppage of play. At that time, the officials go watch the replay.

    And it takes forever.

    “It was a tough, five, 10 minutes whatever it took sitting there thinking about it,” Air Force junior forward Brett Nylander said at the post-game press conference.

    “Five or 10 hours,” Air Force coach Frank Serratore interjected.

    According to one of the reporters sitting near me, it was approximately 12 minutes. But it must have seemed like hours to Serratore and his players.

    “The longer it went, I started to get a good feeling, because obviously it must have been conclusive for them to make the call they made, but it must have not been blatantly conclusive or it wouldn’t have taken 12 minutes to figure it out,” Serratore said. “So at first I had a sick feeling, but the longer it went I was thinking maybe it either didn’t go in or, B, it’s not conclusive. Then the officials came over and explained that they just took so many looks at it because they wanted to make sure they were making the right call.”

    Officials have to wait for a natural stoppage of play to review something – they can’t simply whistle play dead. So play went on for another 1:49.

    Serratore, after the game, brought up an good point: “It would have been really interesting if we had scored.”

    Indeed. Imagine if the Falcons, in that 1:49, had scored. They would have stormed the ice, thrown their equipment in the air, hugged, cried, laughed and celebrated a Frozen Four berth.

    So, at that point, do the refs go back and review the play? And, if so, do they tell the Falcons, “Sorry, you guys didn’t actually win a thriller in overtime, you lost”?

    That would have been – as Serratore said – really interesting.

  • FINAL: Vermont 3, Air Force 2 (2OT)

    Sat, March 28, 2009 by admin with no comments

    Air Force and Vermont players waited. And waited.

     

    Six minutes. Eight minutes. Twelve minutes.

     

    Finally, officials left a replay booth, skated onto the ice and one chopped his right hand at the Falcons’ goal.

     

    And just like that, the best season in Air Force history was over.

     

    The officials ruled that a shot by Vermont’s Dan Lawson, which was not ruled a goal on the ice, in fact had gone underneath the cross bar and into the net.

     

    Lawson’s goal with just more than four minutes left in the second overtime gave Vermont a 3-2 victory in the NCAA East Regional final on Saturday night at The Arena at Harbor Yard. The Catamounts advanced to the Frozen Four, and on April 9 at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., they will face either Boston University or New Hampshire, who meet today for the Northeast Region title.

     

    Air Force, meanwhile, had its season ended in heart-breaking fashion at the NCAA Tournament for the third straight season.

     

    One-goal losses in the 2007 and 2008 tournaments came in the first round. But getting to the second round this season – after Friday’s historic victory over Michigan – was of little solace to a team that had dreams of the Frozen Four and a national title.

     

    Especially with the Falcons getting the news sitting on and around their bench.

  • End of First Overtime: Air Force 2, Vermont 2

    Sat, March 28, 2009 by admin with no comments

    The tension continues to build at The Arena at Harbor Yard in Bridgeport, Conn.

    After one overtime, Air Force and Vermont still are tied, 2-2, in their East Regional final. The next team to score will win and advance to the Frozen Four.

     

    Air Force had the lone power play of the first overtime, late in the session, but was unable to score. And with less than a minute to play, there was a wild scene in front of the Falcons’ goal.

     

    As the Catamounts fired several shots, there was a scrum that knocked down Falcons goalie Andrew Volkening. At one point, Vermont junior forward Viktor Stalberg raised his arms to celebrate what he believed to be a goal. Officials allowed play to continue, time expired and Air Force players and coaches went to the locker room. Vermont, however, stayed on the ice as officials reviewed the play and Vermont fans chanted, “It’s a goal!”

     

    After about two minutes, the officials skated back onto the ice and waved their arms to signify no goal.

     

    Air Force led 1-0 after a goal by freshman forward Paul Weisgarber early in the second period.

     

    Vermont tied the score 3:52 into the third period on a slapshot from the blue line by sophomore defenseman Josh Burrows. The tally was the first given up by Volkening since the Falcons’ game against Sacred Heart on March 15. And less than six minutes later, Vermont took its first lead of the game when sophomore defenseman Dan Lawson rifled a shot through traffic past and past Volkening.

    After not giving up a goal for 262 minutes and 14 seconds, Volkening had allowed two in 5:33.

     

    But Air Force, which had not trailed since its last loss, five games ago, managed to equalize. Senior captain Mike Phillipich recovered the puck behind the net and sent it in front of the goal where Sean Bertsch fired it into the net.

     

    Both teams had good opportunities late in regulation, but Volkening and Vermont goalie Rob Madore denied them.

  • End of Period 3: Air Force 2, Vermont 2

    Sat, March 28, 2009 by admin with no comments

    Next goal wins the NCAA East Regional title and a spot in the Frozen Four.

     

    At the end of regulation in the East Regional final at The Arena at Harbor Yard in Bridgeport, Conn., Air Force and Vermont are tied, 2-2.

     

    The Falcons led, 1-0, heading into the third period thanks to a second period goal by freshman forward Paul Weisgarber.

     

    But Vermont tied the score 3:52 into the third period on a slapshot from the blue line by sophomore defenseman Josh Burrows.

     

    The tally was the first given up by Air Force goalie Andrew Volkening since the Falcons’ game against Sacred Heart on March 15. And less than six minutes later, Vermont took its first lead of the game when sophomore defenseman Dan Lawson rifled a shot through traffic past and past Volkening.

     

    After not giving up a goal for 262 minutes and 14 seconds, Volkening had allowed two in 5:33.

     

    But Air Force, which had not trailed since its last loss, five games ago, managed to equalize. Senior captain Mike Phillipich recovered the puck behind the goal and sent it in front, where Sean Bertsch fired it into the net.

     

    Both teams had opportunities down the stretch, but Volkening (20 saves) and Vermont goalie Rob Madore (32 saves) denied all of them.

  • End of Period 2: Air Force 1, Vermont 0

    Sat, March 28, 2009 by admin with no comments

    Air Force goalie Andrew Volkening has not been scored upon in 258 minutes and 18 seconds – a stretch that bridges all or parts of five games.

     

    If he can go another 20 minutes without allowing a goal, the Falcons will be heading to the Frozen Four.

     

    Air Force leads Vermont, 1-0, after two periods of their East Regional final at The Arena at Harbor Yard in Bridgeport, Conn.

    Freshman forward Paul Weisgarber gave Air Force a 1-0 lead early in the second period by putting away a rebound after a four-on-two break.

     

    Freshman defenseman Scott Mathis blocked a shot by Vermont and started the break. He slid the puck to Weisgarber in the left circle, and Weisgarber passed it to Sean Bertsch at the base of the right circle. Vermont goalie Rob Madore saved Bertsch’s shot, but Weisgarber knocked in the rebound.

     

    Vermont will have the second half of a two-minute power play to start the third period.

  • End of Period 1: Air Force 0, Vermont 0

    Sat, March 28, 2009 by admin with no comments

    Through one period at The Arena at Harbor Yard in Bridgeport, Conn., Air Force and Vermont are scoreless.

     

    Air Force (10 shots) and Vermont (eight) both had good chances to score. Each team had a power play as well as multiple opportunities directly in front of the goal. But the goalies – Air Force’s Andrew Volkening and Vermont’s Rob Madore – were on their games early.

     

    Volkening, who has not been scored upon since the second period of the Falcons’ game against Sacred Heart on March 15 (a stretch of 238 minutes 18 seconds) stopped a point-blank shot in the first minute and another close-in opportunity with 15:42 to play.

     

    One note for fans listening on the radio: According to two of my editors, you can find streaming live video of the game at this link. I couldn’t get the video on my computer, but you might have better luck.

  • 15 Minutes to Puck Drop

    Sat, March 28, 2009 by admin with no comments

    Greetings from The Arena at Harbor Yard in Bridgeport, Conn.

    We’re about 15 minutes from the Air Force hockey program’s first NCAA second round tournament game.

     

    The Falcons face Vermont. Air Force is 0-5 all-time against the Catamounts, but the teams haven’t met since 1992.

     

    I’ll have updates after every period.

  • Saturday Morning Links

    Sat, March 28, 2009 by admin with 1 comment

    An historic victory for the Air Force hockey team yesterday in Bridgeport.

    You can find my story about the game here and my notebook – which includes an interesting anecdote about forward Derrick Burnett, who scored the first goal, here.

    For the Michigan perspective, check out The Ann Arbor News’ story here and the Detroit Free Press’ story here. Back with updates at the game.