• More weekend reading: Jaden Schwartz; No cuts for Air Force hockey; ECHL playoffs

    Fri, April 18, 2014 by Joe Paisley with no comments

    Schwartz celebrationFormer Tiger Jaden Schwartz scored the tying goal in regulation in a 3OT thriller against Chicago.

    Air Force announced its athletic department cuts, which did not affect revenue sports, including hockey.

    The ECHL playoffs are underway with former Tiger William Rapuzzi ( No. 4 seed Idaho) hosting the No. 5 Colorado Eagles (Arthur Bidwill). No. 6 Bakersfield (Joe Marciano) plays at No. 3 Utah. Here is a league preview.

    Here are the incoming freshmen for Minnesota State in Mankato. Here is a look at how North Dakota has fared in the national rankings this past decade.

    Not surprisingly, Union’s Rick Bennett was the USCHO Coach of the Year.

  • Weekend reading: Tom Serratore; LaLeggia; coach salaries; AFA, North Dakota schedules

    Thu, April 17, 2014 by Joe Paisley with no comments

    The first piece of steel for the new Nebraska-Omaha arena for hockey, hoops and volleyball was pout in place Thursday morning.

    The first piece of steel for the new Nebraska-Omaha arena for hockey, hoops and volleyball was put in place Thursday morning.

    Colorado Springs native Tom Serratore  picked up his first pro goal, fight and penalty in a 5-4 win at Syracuse on Wednesday for the AHL’s Adirondack Phantoms.

    All but Rocco Grimaldi have announced they will be back for North Dakota next season. Denver defenseman Joey LaLeggia is returning for his senior year.

    The final NCHC players of the month of the season were named with North Dakota goalie Zane Gothberg and Nebraska-Omaha’s Jake Guentzel honored.

    Under the terms of the three-year contract extension reached between Nebraska-Omaha and coach Dean Blais, he will make a total of just less than $1.3 million over the next four seasons, putting him among the five highest-compensated coaches in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference.

    According to the Omaha World Herald, Blais’ base salary for 2014-15 is the same as it was for this past season, $250,000. It climbs to $260,000 the following season, followed by raises to $265,000 in 2016-17 and $270,000 in 2017-18. A $250,000 longevity bonus from his original contract (originally due as a lump sum next summer) will be paid out concurrently, at $62,500 annually — so Blais will be paid $312,500 in 2014-15 and will top out at $332,500 in the final year of the contract.

    This should give CC fans a good idea of what the new Tigers coach may be paid if he is a candidate with head coaching experience.

    The Air Force Falcons travel to play Western Collegiate Hockey Association members Alaska-Anchorage and host Alaska-Fairbanks in the Brice Gold Rush tournament Oct. 17-18.  North Dakota will host Air Force Nov.  1 in the annual college hockey Hall of Fame Game at Ralph Engelstad Arena. The single contest will serve as a homecoming for Air Force’s Chad Demers, who is from nearby Grafton, N.D.

    The complete Air Force schedule will be announced later this summer.  Here is the North Dakota schedule.

  • NCHC schedule release; CC slate nearly full

    Thu, April 17, 2014 by Joe Paisley with no comments

    cc celebration gold

    Colorado College will play on the National Collegiate Hockey Conference’s Opening Night for the second season in a row.

    The Tigers begin conference play hosting national semifinalist North Dakota on Oct. 17-18. The Friday game comes after the 2014-15 league opener between Nebraska-Omaha at Western Michigan earlier that night.

    Last season, the first two league games – which included Minnesota –Duluth at CC in Game 2 — were part of a national TV doubleheader on CBS Sports Network. The NCHC’s broadcast schedule will be announced later.

    The NCHC released its league composite schedule on Thursday, also confirming that Colorado College and NCAA Tournament participant Denver will play their four-game home-and-home series the weekends of Nov. 14-15 and Feb. 20-21, 2015 to determine ownership of the Gold Pan Trophy. CC downed Denver in the series (2-1-1) last season to take back the rivalry hardware.

    CC will host Miami of Ohio and Western Michigan in February. The Tigers will travel to Oxford, Ohio to take on the RedHawks for the first time there on Nov. 7-8. Previous meetings were at World Arena and at a neutral tournament site.

    CC associate athletic director Scott Lowenberg said he hopes the new league rivalries will take root after World Arena fans see these new opponents more often.

    “We will work hard to educate the fans about those program’s long hockey histories,” he has said.

    The complete Tigers schedule, which will include 10 as of yet unconfirmed nonconference including area rival Air Force and one or two more exhibition game dates, will be released later this month. Other TV broadcasts will be announced later this offseason.

    Like last year, all eight NCHC teams will play five league foes, including their protected rival (CC and Denver, for example), in both home and away series, while facing the other two teams for just one series (one home and one away) for a total of 24 league games.

    In CC’s case, that means the Tigers only travel to Duluth Dec. 5-6 and host defending NCHC regular-season champion St. Cloud State on Jan. 30-31 this upcoming season, which begins Saturday, Oct. 4.

    First-round series winners advance to the Target Center in Minneapolis for the second annual NCHC Frozen Faceoff with the semifinals Friday, March 20 and the third-place game and championship on Saturday, March 21. The Frozen Faceoff champion receives an automatic NCAA berth.

    In this blog post, I also added some of the nonconference and exhibition games I have heard about through other media or during interviews. They remain unconfirmed.

    CC 2014-15 schedule

    Subject to change


    Sept. 30 annual Faceoff Luncheon


    Oct. 5, McGill University (exhibition)

    Oct. 10-11, Alabama-Huntsville (Homecoming)

    Oct. 17-18 North Dakota

    Oct. 23-26, at Boston College, at New Hampshire (block break weekend)

    Oct. 31-Nov. 1 OPEN


    Nov. 7-8, at Miami

    Nov. 14, at Denver

    Nov. 15,  Denver

    Nov. 21, Wisconsin

    Nov. 22, at Air Force

    Nov. 28-29, OPEN


    Dec. 5-6, at Minnesota-Duluth

    Dec. 12-13, at Western Michigan



    Jan. 3-4, at Providence

    Jan. 6, at UConn

    Jan. 16-17, Nebraska-Omaha

    Jan. 23-24, at North Dakota

    Jan. 30-31, St. Cloud State


    Feb. 6-7, OPEN

    Feb. 13-14, Miami

    Feb. 20, Denver

    Feb. 21, at Denver

    Feb. 27-28, Western Michigan


    March 6-7, at Nebraska-Omaha

    March 13-15, NCHC quarterfinals

    March 20-21, NCHC Frozen Faceoff (Target Center, Minneapolis)

  • Natives make area pro hockey history

    Tue, April 15, 2014 by Joe Paisley with no comments

    For the first time, three Colorado Springs natives played in an American Hockey League game Monday night with Tom Serratore, a former Minnesota wing, and Ben Holmstrom (UMass-Lowell) with the Adirondack Phantoms, an affiliate of the Flyers, and former Lowell forward Josh Holmstrom on the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (Islanders).

    Ben Holmstrom picked up an assist on the winning goal in a 4-2 victory for the Phantoms in Serratore’s pro debut. Josh Holmstrom has no points in five pro games.

    They play each other again to end their season on Friday since neither will make the playoffs. All three played club hockey for the Colorado Rampage in Monument.

  • Serratore signs with AHL Adirondack

    Mon, April 14, 2014 by Joe Paisley with no comments

    Minnesota senior Tom Serratore signed an amateur tryout contract with the Adirondack Phantoms of the American Hockey League and will join the organization immediately.

    “Tom has definitely earned this opportunity, and we are thrilled he is going to be able to go on and play at the professional level,” Minnesota head coach Don Lucia said. “Like all of our seniors, Tom has been a great program guy for us. He has worked hard since the day he arrived on campus, and he has done everything we have asked of him during his time here. We want to wish him the absolute best as he continues his playing career.”  

    Serratore Tom 066The Colorado Springs, Colo., native played in 140 career games with 22 points (15 goals) and a runner-up finish at the NCAA Frozen Four in Philadelphia.

    The forward played in 35 games this season with seven points, three goals and four assists including the game-winning goal in a 2-1 win over Penn State on March 1, 2014 — Serratore’s final game at Mariucci Arena.

    One of five seniors, Serratore was part of the first class in Minnesota’s 93-year history to win three conference titles and the first group in program history to win three-straight league titles. Serratore also helped the Gophers to three-straight NCAA tournament appearances (2012-14) including two Frozen Four berths (2012, 2014) after missing the tournament as a freshman.

    Serratore is the son of Air Force head coach Frank Serratore, the nephew of Bemidji State head coach Tom Serratore and the cousin of former Gopher goaltender, 1988 Hobey Baker Award winner and NHL veteran Robb Stauber.

    The forward joins fellow Colorado Springs native Ben Holmstrom, formerly of UMass-Lowell.

  • Gold Pan series dates; tentative CC schedule

    Thu, April 10, 2014 by Joe Paisley with no comments

    Taft 2Next season’s Gold Pan series between Colorado College and Denver will resume in November 2014 and conclude in February 2015 judging from the DU home schedule cards. 

    CC travels to Denver on Friday, Nov. 14 and hosts their Front Range rivals on Nov. 15. The Tigers host the Pioneers on Friday, Feb. 20 and travel to Magness Arena on Feb. 21 in National Collegiate Hockey Conference play.

    Denver hosts Air Force in a nonleague game on Friday, Nov. 21 and the Big Ten’s Wisconsin the next night. That makes it very likely the Badgers will visit World Arena to play the Tigers on Nov. 21.

    The schedule is subject to change and remains unconfirmed until formal announcements later this month.

    Here is a very INCOMPLETE, TENTATIVE SCHEDULE (in other words, do not book any flights just yet) based on past interviews and other media.

    CC 2014-15 schedule

    Subject to change


    Sept. 30 annual Faceoff Luncheon


    Oct. 3, McGill University (exhibition)

    Oct. 10-11, Alabama-Huntsville (Homecoming)

    Oct. 17-18 North Dakota

    Oct. 24-26, at Boston College, New Hampshire (block break weekend)

    Oct. 31-Nov. 1 BYE WEEK


    Nov. 7-8  at Miami

    Nov. 14 at Denver

    Nov. 15   Denver

    Nov. 21  Wisconsin

    Nov. 22 at Air Force


    Dec. 5-6, at Minnesota-Duluth


    Jan. 3-4, at Providence

    Jan. 6, at UConn


    Feb. 20 Denver

    Feb. 21 at Denver

  • Air Force announces captains, honorees

    Sun, April 6, 2014 by Joe Paisley with no comments

    mckenzie-gazetteAir Force and Colorado College recognized their players’ achievements at team award banquets on Sunday with the Falcons also announcing leaders for next season.

    Juniors George Michalke III and Dan Weissenhofer were both named as co-captains for the Falcons.

    Michalke also garnered the team’s most inspirational award after returning from a head injury that ended his sophomore season in October 2012. The forward played 32 games this season (20 points).

    Defenseman Weissenhofer was named as the Defensive Player of the Year thanks to a plus-11 rating. He and the other juniors, including team MVP Cole Gunner (44 points), are anxious to get started.

    “That is exactly how we all feel,” Weissenhofer said. “We are ready to get the season going knowing we have just one more year to win a championship.”

    Here are the team award winners for Air Force from this past season.

    Chuck Delich Award (team MVP) — Junior forward Cole Gunner, a second team Atlantic Hockey Association honoree, led Falcons with 44 points (15 goals).

    Defensive Player of the Year — Junior Dan Weissenhofer was a team-best plus-11 this season with 15 points.

    Jim Bowman Award (top scholar-athlete) — Senior defenseman Adam McKenzie, an aeronautical engineering major with 3.86 grade-point average and three-time AHA all-academic honoree was a second-team all-conference blue-liner (18 points, seven goals).

    Vic Heyliger Award  (dedication, character, leadership and work ethic) — Senior forward Ryan Timar recorded career-high seven goals and 14 points, 28 blocks.

    Most Improved Player — Senior forward Mitch Torrel played in just 25 games and had two assists his first three years. This season, he played in 28 and was for fourth on the team with eight goals.

    John Matchefts Award (top freshman) – Defenseman Johnny Hrabovsky was one of just seven Falcons to play in every game (10 points, eight assists, 38 shot blocks).

    Larry Cronk Award (inspirational player) — Junior forward George Michalke III missed almost all of last season to injury, but returned this season to record 20 points and win team-best 59 percent of his faceoffs.

  • AFA picks up blue-liner for next season

    Fri, April 4, 2014 by Joe Paisley with no comments

    MackeyYoungstown Phantoms defenseman Kyle Mackey committed to play starting next season at Air Force.

    “Air Force has been showing interest this whole year.  I finally got out to visit this past week, and it was great,” said Mackey.  “The campus was great; the Colorado Springs area is just awesome.  They have a lot to offer, and they set you up for the rest of your life.  It’s a great opportunity, and I’m really blessed for it.”

    Mackey has produced 16 points (1g, 15a) and collected 52 penalty minutes in 49 games this season for the Phantoms.  He scored his first USHL goal in a 4-3 shootout win against the Fargo Force on Nov. 8, one month after celebrating his 19th birthday.  It is the second season in the USHL for the Derby, N.Y. native after he recorded six assists and a plus-eight rating over 38 games with the Phantoms last season.

    The defenseman came to the USHL after the Phantoms selected him in the 2012 USHL Entry Draft.  He previously played youth hockey for the Buffalo Jr. Sabres organization.

    “It’s a great accomplishment for Kyle,” said Phantoms coach Anthony Noreen.  “Last year, and I think he’d be the first to admit it, was a big growing process for him as a player, but he stuck to it.  He believed in us, he trusted us, he worked his way through it, came back this year, and he stepped up big time on our back end when we needed it.  He fought his way into our top pair, and has really been an anchor for us on our blue line all year.  I think it’s something that he deserves, something that he’s worked towards, and it’s a huge honor for him.”

    Mackey is joined by two other USHL defensemen that have committed to Air Force – Phil Boje of the Dubuque Fighting Saints and R.J. Majkozak of the Sioux Falls Stampede.

  • Fabian garners AHA sportsmanship award

    Fri, March 21, 2014 by Joe Paisley with no comments

    FabianAir Force senior Jason Fabian is the co-recipient of the Atlantic Hockey Association Individual Sportsmanship award as voted on by the league’s coaches. Mercyhurst defenseman Nick Jones shares the award with Fabian.

    Fabian, who played in nearly every situation including power play, penalty kill and extra-attacker offense and defense, played in all 39 games and was called for just two penalties for four minutes all season. He finished the season fifth on the team in scoring with 19 points (11 assists).

    He was Air Force’s top faceoff man, winning 380 faceoffs this season, No. 22 in the nation. His 54.8 faceoff percentage was the ninth best in the nation among players who won more than 375 draws. The Roseau, Minn., center blocked 27 shots, the best among the AFA forwards.

    Fabian is the first Falcon to ever win the AHA Individual Sportsmanship Award.

    Mercyhurst goalie Jimmy Sarjeant was named the AHA Player of the Year, while his coach Rick Gotkin earned Coach of the Year honors. Mercyhurst’s Dan O’Donoghue was named the AHA’s Best Defensive Forward, Laker Nick Jones was named the Best Defenseman. Sacred Heart’s Justin Danforth was named the AHA Rookie of the Year.

  • Thursday reading: NCHC, WCHA, Big 10

    Thu, March 20, 2014 by Joe Paisley with no comments

    miamiCan Miami make it to the NCAAs? This columnist asks, Why not? The RedHawks’ Riley Barber has upped his game of late.

    Better goaltending has lifted Western Michigan on the to the NCHC semifinals.

    NCHC commissioner Josh Fenton talks about the so-called rivalry between the NCHC and Big 10. Here is a look at the Frozen Faceoff.

    The WCHA Final Five’s name now makes little sense but that is the least of college hockey’s worries this weekend, according to the Minnesota State beat writer.

    Wisconsin’s top three scorers will give the Badgers a chance to unseat Minnesota i the Big 10 this weekend.

    The search for the new Lake Superior State coach is underway. Here is the Air Force season wrap-up.