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2 posts categorized "Air Force"

March 18, 2012

College Hockey | Kirby for Hobey, tournament notes

Posted by: Feldman

We haven't had much time to talk college hockey on here this season, thanks to a 12-pound 3-month-old who clearly doesn't think I should work at home, and a 5-year-old with a much more active social life than me or Mrs. Feldy.

But, with the high school season having wrapped up, we can talk some college hockey now and through the national tournament. Let's get right to it:

* Huge news came Friday for former Austin High standout defenseman Tim Kirby, who was named one of the top 10 Hobey Baker finalists this week. Kirby, a senior at Air Force, is the third Falcons player to be honored as a top-10 finalist since 2007 (Eric Ehn, 2007; Jacques Lamoureux, 2009). Kirby, of course, is coached by former Rochester Mustangs head coach (and quote machine) Frank Serratore

KIrby has 12 goals and 27 points in 36 games. His 12 goals are third-most by a defenseman in the country. He ranks ninth in school history in points by a defenseman (87) and holds the AFA record for most career games played (152). He's never missed a game in his four seasons.

The top-10 list will be cut down to three names (the Hobey Hat Trick finalists) on March 29. The Hobey Baker Award winner will be announced on April 6 in Tampa, Fla., the day before the national championship game. You can find bios of all 10 finalists here.

Kirby had an assist on the game-winning goal Saturday as AFA topped Rochester (NY) Institute of Technology, 4-0, in the Atlantic Hockey championship game. That victory gives the Falcons an automatic berth into the NCAA tournament, which begins Friday. It appears that the Falcons will likely be sent to the Northeast Regional in Worcester, Mass., where they will face top-ranked and No. 1 overall seed Boston College.

* There's a good chance that Western Michigan ends up in the West Regional, at the Xcel Energy Center, as the No. 4 seed in that region. The Broncos beat Michigan for the CCHA postseason championship on Saturday, earning an automatic bid into the national tourney.

The Broncos are coached by longtime NHL coach Andy Murray, and Rochester native Pat Ferschweiler is an assistant coach for WMU.

* We could have a meeting of two former Rochester Mayo players out east as is projecting Maine and Minnesota-Duluth to meet in the first round. Defenseman Bill Norman, a 2011 Mayo grad, is a freshman at Maine, though he hasn't played in a game this season. UMD's head equipment manager is 1997 Mayo grad Chris Garner, who is in his fourth season with the Bulldogs.

* The Gophers are in the tournament for the first time since Alex Kangas was a freshman (2007-08), and as the site host, they're locked into playing in the West Regional at the Xcel Energy Center on Saturday-Sunday, most likely as the region's No. 2 seed. By the time you're reading this, we'll probably know the other teams who have been slotted into that regional (the tournament selection show will air at 11 a.m. Sunday on ESPNU), but it sounds like there's a good chance that North Dakota will end up back at The X for a second consecutive weekend.

Either North Dakota or Michigan is expected to the be the No. 1 seed in the West Regional. The question that the selection committee faces, though, is this: Do they hold up what's referred to as "bracket integrity" (send the No. 1 seeds as close to their homes as possible?) or do they consider attendance issues? If it's the latter, then Michigan will come to The X and UND will head to Green Bay and the Midwest Regional.

From the NCAA's point of view, the Gophers will carry the West Regional, attendance-wise. Sending UND to St. Paul would guarantee a sellout crowd, but it might also guarantee a a lot of empty seats in the Resch Center in Green Bay (with Michigan, Ferris State, Denver and Cornell the likely teams to land in that region).

Either way, if the Gophers get past their first game (quite possibly against Boston U.), they'll be staring down a big rival in the regional final -- UND or Michigan.

March 24, 2011

College Hockey | Kirby, Serratore ready to lead 'underdog' Air Force in NCAA tourney

FELDY: My original intent this week was to do a story about Austin HIgh grad Tim Kirby, a junior defenseman for the Air Force Academy, and his head coach, Frank Serratore, who has a lot of ties to this area. AFA is making its fourth trip in five years to the NCAA DivisionI hockey tournament, and Kirby has been a big part of the team for three years now.

Air Force has a tough draw, facing top overall seed Yale, in Bridgeport, Conn., on Friday. But, Air Force has already defeated Yale once this season, 4-3, back in November. AFA was down 3-0 in that game before rallying to win, so Kirby said the Falcons are heading east with a lot of confidence. Aside from top-ranked North Dakota, which is on a 12-0-1 stretch, Air Force might be the hottest team in the country, taking an eight-game winning streak into the NCAA tournament.

After talking with both Kirby and Serratore this week, I had so many good comments from Kirby and so many good comments from Serratore (former Rochester Mustangs and Austin Mavericks coach/GM) about Kirby that my article turned into a story strictly about Kirby.

Here is a link that the story, which is in today's P-B and Austin P-B print editions.

I was told in my journalism classes in college that your articles will be much better if you have good material that doesn't make it of your notebook; in other words, if you have too much good content to fit in the article.

That was definitely the case with this one; Kirby and Serratore both had a lot of interesting things to say that didn't make it in the article. Here's some of what didn't get into print:

* Kirby said he was quite unsure initially about going to Air Force Academy. He said a couple of things helped him make up his mind: 1) Serratore's brother, Joe, who lives in Austin, "gave me a nudge," he said; and 2) Kirby's dad was a Marine, and "I liked the idea of floowing in his footsteps and serving our country."

* Kirby, on having beaten Yale earlier this season: "That's another advantage I feel like we have going in to this game. It was early in the year and it was on our home ice, at altitude (in Colorado Springs). We're a great-conditioned team, too, and it helps to have played them before. It's not like we're going against a top team, like North Dakota, that we're not familiar with."

* Kirby, on his points total this season (he has seven goals and 16 assists, for 23 points): "Coach looks at the whole defensive corps and wants us to do that. He implements a five-man offensive system and wants us to jump into the play whenever we can. We have a very skilled defensive corps, all the way down to the guys who aren't dressing."  (NOTE: Kirby and his defensive partner, Scott Mathis, are among the top five scoring defensemen in Atlantic Hockey).

* Serratore, on the D pairing of Kirby (23 points) and Mathis (27): "I call them Butch and Sundance because they're such a terrific defensive duo. ... In our system, we expect our defensemen to get involved in the offense, and Tim is probably the most active player in our defensive corps."

* Serratore, on Kirby's leadership skills: "He doesn't talk much, but he always has a smile on his face. He's a big time lead by example guy -- big time lead by example guy -- he goes out and competes his best every day. He's a born jock."

* Serratore, on Air Force's strong finish; it's 9-1 in its past 10 games: "It just took awhile for all the lessons to be learned and we've become a true team in the second half. It takes a lot of instruments to make up an orchestra and all of those things have come together in the last 6-8 weeks."

* Serratore, on the Falcons' confidence: "We have no bad players. We have a lot of good players and a few very, very good players, and Tim is one of them. The team has been great the last 6-8 weeks. If you want to use the word 'great,' you have to do it in the team sense."