2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner

Falcon players never questioned top-four finish

Published: February 26, 2013, 12:49 am, by Joe Paisley

AFAlogo2012Air Force players never doubted they would clinch a bye into the Atlantic Hockey Association quarterfinals, even with a 3-7-3 record entering December.

“I don’t think anyone ever doubted, even in mid-January,” said junior defenseman Adam McKenzie. “There was never any doubt in the locker room.”

Coach Frank Serratore did not share their confidence.

“Are you kidding me?” he said to open his Monday press conference. “Did anyone think we could clinch home playoff ice with a week left go to when we were sitting in ninth place? If someone had said yes, I would have had that person get a drug test.”

The Falcons have gone 12-4-3 since Dec. 1 and now find themselves in second place and guaranteed to finish no worse than fourth place when the regular season ends this weekend.

“We felt confident we could do it,” said senior forward Kyle De Laurell. “We thought we were one of the top teams in the conference and knew we weren’t playing up to our potential. When the second half rolled around, we knew we could finish in the top four.”

Fortunately for Falcon fans, the players believed and bought in to the level of commitment and performance required to make that 12-4-3 run. Now, Serratore knows he needs to coach less and let the players take care of business this weekend against No. 14 Niagara.

“I want bright eyes on Friday and Saturday,” he said. “You can’t want to win more than your players. They have to want it just as much.

“Coaches get much credit for wins and too much for losses. If you want to credit me, Mike (Corbett) or Andy (Berg), credit us for getting out of the way.”