Howdy, folks. It’s that time of year again. Every so often The College Hockey Blog will be unveiling our Preseason top 16 teams, one by one. If you want to see the top 16 in order, and links to each individual preview, click the tab at the top of the page. Today’s team is #14 Air Force
Last year Air Force produced an upset in the first round of the NCAA tournament when they defeated Michigan – but it was an upset in name only. After all, this was a team that started out the season 13-0 including two defeats of a Frozen Four team and one of Colorado College (that was admittedly much more impressive at the time). Air Force had the top goal scorer in the country (and our inagural player of the year award winner) Jacques Lamoureux who is back for another year to lead the Falcons to perhaps yet another Atlantic Hockey title and NCAA bid. Read more…
It’s a couple years old, but damn I love that picture. It must be the helmets.
Anyways, the East regional in Bridgeport is definitely the most balanced of the four regionals. It features two conference champions, a team that was in the Frozen Four last year, and one that is back to the tournament after a looooooong absence.
The #1 seed Michigan Wolverines are incredible up front, led by a Sophomore trio that actually reminds me of North Dakota’s amazing trio two years ago of Jonathan Toews, TJ Oshie and Ryan Duncan. Aaron Palushaj and Louie Caporusso were each in the top 10 nationally in points per game, and this came in one of the most defensive conferences in the country this year. With Mark Mitera out for much of the year with a knee injury and Steve Kampfer out after being attacked by a Michigan football player Michigan survived defensively, especially once Bryan Hogan took over in net, and now that those two defensemen are back Michigan will be even tougher to crack defensively.
Hogan has had a couple of rough ones lately, however, including giving up 5 goals to Notre Dame in the CCHA title game. Michigan definitely won’t overlook Air Force given the Falcons’ last two efforts in the NCAA Tournament, but they will be in for a dogfight.
Air Force, on the other hand, comes into their third straight NCAA tournament after giving Minnesota a run for their money 2 years ago and Miami a run for their money last year. They of course are led by Sophomore forward Jacques Lamoureux, who leads the country with 32 goals, .82 per game. He also leads the country with 15 power play goals. Unlike the past couple of years, Air Force has more defensive help, led by Greg Flynn, and they have a great goalie in Andrew Volkening who has been great, especially lately with 2 shutouts in a row at the Atlantic Hockey semis and finals.
Oh and by the by, Lamoureux also leads the nation with 9 game winning goals. For that reason, I’m going with the shocker and taking Air Force to upset Michigan. Read more…
We lead off awards season with Atlantic Hockey. The conference was led by Air Force and RIT for much of the season, but Mercyhurst made quite a charge, finishing 3rd in the league and was among the national leaders in scoring for much of the season.
Air Force forward Jacques Lamoureux put up fantastic numbers, leading the conference in scoring, and is among the national leaders in scoring. He is a legitimate Hobey candidate. I don’t think he will pull an Eric Ehn and get into the top 3, but he’ll be a top 10 candidate for sure. For that, Lamoureux is my choice for Atlantic Hockey player of the year.
Our coach of the year is Wayne Wilson at RIT. After a bit of a rocky start coupled with a high flying start for Air Force, many people had written everyone else off and were ready to hand Atlantic Hockey’s bid to Air Force. But RIT came back and ended up tying for the league title. Coach Wilson built a team around a true team concept and that is definitely something to be commended.
Dave Kostuch from Canisius is our Freshman of the year. Kostuch had 21 goals to lead Atlantic Hockey Freshmen.
Our all-Atlantic Hockey team:
G- Ryan Zapolski, Mercyhurst
D- Greg Flynn, Air Force
D- Carl Hudson, Canisius
F- Jacques Lamoureux, Air Force
F- Steve Cameron, Mercyhurst
F- Matt Pierce, Mercyhurst
Over the next couple of weeks here at The College Hockey Blog I’ll be previewing the conference tournaments.
Today we start with Atlantic Hockey, where Air Force and RIT combined for identical records atop the conference. Although one team has more popularity across the nation for their undefeated streak to start the year and a win over Colorado College to boot, they might not even be the favorite in their own conference. That could be RIT, who since losing December 6th at Air Force has lost just 2 games, an impressive stretch indeed. Read more…