Nick on Sports: Your team's five-game unbeaten streak ended last Saturday against Sacred Heart, giving Air Force an 8-8-3 record on the year. What are your thoughts about how your team played over the weekend?
Mr. Serratore: We played very poor defensively in the first two periods on Friday and had a great third period. However, we cannot play one strong period in a game and expect to win, especially on the road. We played better on Saturday and scored the first goal, however, we allowed Sacred Heart to counter 18 seconds later which hurt our momentum and gave them a much needed boost as we had scored three straight goals counting two in the third period the night before. Overall, we were out special teamed on the weekend, we only won one of six periods, and held a lead for only 18 seconds over the entire weekend. With this, we got what we deserved and Sacred Heart earned their points.
Nick: An 0-4 start to the season surely wasn't what you were looking for to begin the year, but your team rebounded to have a strong first half, including a win over No. 1 Yale. How would you describe your thoughts on how the first half of the season went?
Mr. Serratore: We have a mix of younger and older players having big senior and freshmen classes. We also had to replace the greatest player in Air Force hockey history with the graduation of goaltender Andrew Volkening, so there was a lot of just figuring out our personnel in the first half. In the first half, we played very well in all facets of our game at time but rarely were all the facets of our game played at a high level at the same time. It was rare where we were hitting on all eight cylinders, out goal in the second half is to get our entire game together and display it on a consistent basis. If we can put it all together, we will be a very tough team to play against we we will be a contender in he post season. If we fail, we will probably not win with the consistency which was the problem in the first half.
Nick: You said at the beginning of the season that if Air Force were to finish third in Atlantic Hockey, you'd be doing cartwheels. Sitting at fourth in the conference right now, how would you say the team has done compared to your expectations?
Mr. Serratore: The jury is still out as we have not played as many games as most of the teams in our league. To date, we have shown we can beat the top teams in our league but have also shown we can fall victim to bottom teams. Only time will tell if we will be able to perform consistently enough as a team to become a post season contender.
Nick: After losing Volkening to graduation,
freshman goalie Jason Torf has stepped in
nicely in net, even being named AHA Rookie of the Month for November. How important has his play been to the Falcons this year?
Mr. Serratore: Jason is doing a very good job. Thetime he has not had great outings was more of our team not performing well in front of him than him playing poorly. Hopefully we will begin playing better on a more consistent basis in front of Jason which will enable him to more effectively grow as a goaltender.
Nick: What are some of the things your team will be looking to improve on for the second half of the season?
Mr. Serratore: As I mentioned earlier, all the different phases of our game have been good at times but we have not brought it all together enough on a consistent basis. If any part of your game is deficient, your opponent will quickly exploit it. All of the teams in college hockey are pretty close, the top teams are not that much better than the bottom teams. The successful teams are often times the teams with the fewest amount of weaknesses and the teams who make the fewest mistakes. We need to improve in the areas of our game that will lose games for us, if we take care of this, the winning will take care of itself.
Nick: What is it like having a brother (Bemidji State coach Tom Serratore) that also coaches in Division I hockey? Especially when you played his team so much back when both of your teams were in CHA.
Mr. Serratore: It is very cool having a brother in the business. It gives me a person I can talk to on a regular basis about the ups and downs of the business, a person who I know has my best interests at heart. It also helps my brother has been very successful, I haven't had to worry about him professionally. As you know, this is a tough business and coaches need to have a certain amount of success in order to survive. Tom has certainly exceeded this, winning numerous conference championships and coaching a Frozen Four team in 2009. The only part that has been tough is that my little brother has had the upper hand in the history of our series, with that, I guess if I had to have a losing record against anyone in the business, it is probably best it be him!