Preseason Top 16: #14 Air Force
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.
Last year, the Falcons’ best defenseman was Greg Flynn and his 42 points. They will have to find a new backbone of their blueline this year due to Flynn’s graduation. Air Force does have a lot of their better defensive defensemen back however, a good sign for the team that was ranked 6th nationally in defense. Speaking of being ranked 6th, goalie Andrew Volkening, who ranked 6th nationally with a 1.97 GAA, will also be back, although he did rank considerably lower in save percentage, 19th overall.
Air Force returns a ton of offensive depth, starting with All-American Jacques Lamoureux. Lamoureux was 3rd nationally in points and 2nd in points per game behind Quinnipiac’s Bryan Leitch. He also led the country in goals with 33 and goals per game with .8 gpg. Lamoureux excelled on even strength and on the power play where he – no shock – led the country with 15 ppg. Brent Olson’s 41 points are gone, but Matt Fairchild (37 pts), and Jeff Hajner (29 pts) are back, along with some young guys (well, young for Air Force’s standards) who will step in and fit in quite nicely in the program.
Air Force will have some competition with RIT and Mercyhurst for the Atlantic Hockey title, but they should be dancing in the NCAA Tournament regardless.