March 29, 2008
2008 NCAA MEN'S ICE HOCKEY CHAMPIONSHIP
NORTHEAST REGIONAL DCU CENTER WORCESTER, MASS.
AIR FORCE POST-TOURNAMENT PRESS CONFERENCE QUOTES
MARCH 29, 2008
Head Coach Frank Serratore, Senior Forward Eric Ehn, Senior Forward Josh Print
Serratore: We are obviously disappointed. It was a great college hockey game. It strengthened part of our team. We overcame a lot of adversity. First off, giving up a goal 45 seconds in, we needed to get off to a good start and that's not what I categorize as a good start. But we battled back and got out of that period, came back, won the second period, put ourselves in the position to win in the second period. Miami tied it, it went into overtime. We had our chances, they had their chances and unfortunately it didn't go our way.
For Eric Ehn, what did it mean for you to come back to this game?
Ehn: For me it was pretty magical, not so much that I got to play again, but the way my teammates played. For these guys to go out and win the Atlantic Hockey Association championship while I was in the crowd, I was just so proud. Just to join them on the ice for this is a dream come true. I thank them for the opportunity and I'm just glad I'm here.
What can you say about the way Volkening played in net?
Print: He was unreal. He kept us in it more than a couple times. When we made our mistakes he was there to back us up. Unfortunately, we got outscored and lost.
Ehn: Definitely, Volkening is a special kind of kid. I think I've seen him make more unbelievable saves then I could ever imagine a goalie at Air Force could make. It's nice to have him on our side.
Josh, other than the outcome of this game, how does it feel to score your first goal in a game like this?
Print: Like I tell all the guys, I try to save them for the most important times. It's my biggest goal I have ever scored in my life, just to give the guys a boost. I think it helps when a guy like myself, who hasn't scored a goal all season, gets one there to put us ahead. It's just a lift for my teammates. I think the intensity and focus picked up a little bit, but again, things just didn't go our away.
Obviously a heartbreaker again, two tournaments in a row you've come in and had the lead in the third period, it just has to be crushing. What's your state of mind right now?
Ehn: You can't hang your head about the way we played, especially when you take the second-ranked team into overtime. When you give yourself an opportunity to win against the second-ranked team in the country in the NCAA tournament you can be that disappointed.
Your season is over, your playing careers in college are over. What memories will you carry with you?
Print: Definitely these last two seasons, not only making it to the NCAA tournament both times, but winning our conference. I think the biggest memory is just the camaraderie among our teammates. Going to school at the Air Force Academy, I think there are a few more things that we deal with on a daily basis. I think we get a little bit closer because we help each other through those things. Again, it was a great experience to play with all of these great all-around guys. I think that's the biggest memory I'll take away.
Ehn: I think my biggest memory is these seven seniors. After going through basic training with somebody at the Air Force Academy you get a special bond. I couldn't have picked seven better guys to go through it with, and nine my freshman and sophomore year. We're going to be tight from here on out, we just won't be living together anymore.
What will you take away from this game as you look forward to next year?
Serratore: I'm so proud of our players for putting us on the map. What they've established, their legacy, the Air Force Academy, people didn't even know we were a Division I hockey program. They know who we are now and I'm so proud of these players. Winning back to back Atlantic Hockey championships really validated a lot of things like being here two years in a row and validated them as a quality program. They came through in the clutch two years in a row. We proved we're not a one hit wonder. Personally, its two missed opportunities when you come that close and I'll take these games to the grave. Michigan, Minnesota and Miami will get here every year. We will not get here every year. As proud as I am with my players, you just don't know if you will have these opportunities again.
Tell us the game plan focus you had coming into this game to make it as close as it was.
Serratore: Our game plan was to get out to a great start and that ended in a hurry. We had to go to plan B. Thank God we have character kids that have no quit in them... We knew Miami would try to put us away early. We knew the first ten minutes were huge. We got off to a horrible start that ended with a goal in the first shift. Academy kids, they have no quit in them. They are full of character, stick together, they don't turn on each other. They are a coach's dream. I don't have the most talent in the world to coach but I don't have high maintenance. It's a pretty special place to work and pretty special people to be around.
What was your mindset going into the third period?
Serratore: We thought we had the legs to be honest with you. We were defending a lot because we had the lead. We made sure we had our numbers back and we were creating backside pressure. Miami does two things very well: they transition well on turnovers and they're good down low. We needed to maintain body position and weather the storms in those situations. To be honest, I thought we did a good job. The opportunities that they got were the ones we gave them. I liked our legs. I thought we skated better than them and we were defending well. I loved what we ran. When you're against the No. 2 team in the country and you're going into the third period with a 2-1 lead, that's where you want to be.
What did you say to the team that brought on that explosion in the beginning on the second period?
Serratore: I told them this is a good team we're playing, but they're playing a good team as well. I told them that they could not only skate with them but that they can skate better than them. You need to validate yourselves and the point that you can play with these guys. I think that them scoring in the first period and us holding them for the rest of the period, I told them, "Go play, you can play with these guys, and not only can you play with them, you can beat them." We earned the opportunity to play this game and our job was to make sure that they got a handful, and I think we accomplished that.