When Air Force meets Minnesota on Saturday at the Mariucci Classic in Minneapolis, it will be a family affair for the Serratore family.
Frank Serratore is in his 16th year at the helm of the Falcons, while his son Tom is a junior forward for the Gophers. Frank’s wife and Tom’s mother Carol will be in attendance along with many other members of the Serratore family.
“[Carol] will say she is rooting for me because it pays the bills, but when it comes down between me and one of the kids, I know I will always finish a very distant and a very quiet second,” Frank said.
Win or lose, father will always be his son’s biggest fan.
“I couldn’t be more proud of what Tom has accomplished so far,” Frank said. “He was basically a recruited walk-on at Minnesota, walking on at Minnesota in hockey is like trying to walk on at Duke for basketball or Alabama for football. It‘s just not easy to do. However, the Minnesota coaching staff did a fabulous job of convincing Tom they needed his element in their lineup. They assured him he would be treated fairly and rewarded if he performed. Both parties held up their end of the bargain, Tom went in and worked his tail off, the coaching staff rewarded him with playing time, and now he is on a partial scholarship. Tom loves the game and won’t be outworked. He is a great example of what a person can accomplish if they are committed to a goal and not afraid to work. Tom has already exceeded my expectations as a player, not his expectations, but mine.”
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However, for one night, family will have to take a back seat.
“People have told me that I would be fine if we lost as long as Tom scored the game-winning goal,” Frank said. “I tell them, ‘Are you kidding me? Do you realize the crap I would have to take from him for the rest of my life if that happened?” Frank said. “We are a very competitive family.”
For the son, no matter what happens, Father always knows best.
“When I was growing up I would always be stubborn and act like I didn’t agree with the things he would tell me,” Tom said. “But I always knew he was right. He was definitely a mentor to me, and he really helped me a lot.”
The Serratores could very well be the first family of college hockey. Tom’s twin brother Tim is currently the third leading scorer at Augsburg, while Frank’s younger brother Tom, who is Gopher Tom’s namesake, recently won his 200th game as a college coach at the helm of Bemidji State. Not to be outdone, Tim and Tom’s cousin Robb Stauber, was the first goaltender to win the Hobey Baker Award as the national player of the year during his time as a Golden Gopher.
“My dad always told me that I could play whatever sport I wanted, but being around hockey all the time, it was just such a natural fit,” Tom said. “I was always going to his games and hanging out in the locker room with the guys on the team.”
Even though Tom has played hockey as long as he can remember, this will only be the second meeting on the ice between Serratore father and son. In 2006, at the USA Hockey National U-17 Festival in St. Cloud, Minn., Tom played on the Orange Team, Frank coached the Grey Team and Tim played on the Green Team. Each of the family members ended up going 1-1 against each other in the round robin with Frank’s team beating Tom’s, Tom’s team beating Tim’s and Tim’s team defeating Frank’s. However, the two boys ganged up on Dad claiming the tiebreaker went to them as they both managed to score goals in the game against their Dad.
“I haven’t thought too much about the fact that the game is coming up, but it will definitely be crazy,” Tom said. “Hopefully we will be able to get the win.”
After the game it will be business as usual for Tom as he looks to continue his improvement as a member of the fourth-ranked Golden Gophers. His six goals so far this season are already more than his first two seasons combined. He has been hot as of late scoring five times in the last seven games — three of them game-winners.
“Tom has been such a good soldier for us,” Minnesota head coach Don Lucia said. “He takes on whatever role we ask him to, he’s a hard worker on and off the ice, and it’s been great to see that dedication pay off for him so far this season.”
Tom, the business marketing education major, plans on playing as long as he can then follow in his father’s footsteps.
“After I am done playing I would like to go into coaching so I can stay involved with the game,” Tom said. “Hockey has been something that has been a part of me ever since I can remember so I don’t see that changing any time soon.”
• Boston College sophomore forward Johnny Gaudreau has been Mr. Clutch so far this season. Not only does he lead the defending champions in scoring with 23 points in only 14 games but five of his 11 goals have been game-winners. His total leads the nation in game-winning goals. The Eagles are 11-2-1 on the season and not only does he have the game-winner in five of them, but he has also assisted on three others, thus being involved in the game-winner on eight of the 11 BC victories.
• St. Cloud State senior forward Ben Hanowski notched his 50th career goal on Dec. 15 in the Huskies’ 3-1 win against Colorado College at the National Hockey and Event Center in St. Cloud. He is the 16th player in SCSU history at the NCAA Division I level to score 50 career goals. Hanowski needs just five more points to hit the 100-point club at SCSU. In 132 career games played, Hanowski has 50 goals and 45 assists.
• The CONSOL Energy Center, host of this year’s Frozen Four, is home to the Three Rivers Classic, which will be held in Pittsburgh Dec. 28-29. Miami (Ohio) and Ohio State will face off in the first contest, followed by Penn State and Robert Morris. The two winners play each other for the championship the following night, while the two losing teams will match up in the third-place game. It will be the third consecutive meeting between Miami (Ohio) and Ohio State after they just played a regular-season series in which the RedHawks prevailed with a victory followed by a tie.
Niagara is on a 12-game unbeaten streak, longest in the nation. The Purple Eagles look to extend the streak against Bowling Green this weekend … Nebraska-Omaha has split its last three series … Alaska-Fairbanks is in the midst of a stretch of 25 days off from game action … Ferris State and Cornell play each other at the Florida College Hockey Classic on Dec. 28 in Estero, Fla. The game is a rematch of the 2012 NCAA Midwest Regional final won by Ferris State in Green Bay, Wis. … Lake Superior State has killed off its last 24 penalties … Notre Dame is on a six-game win streak and have won eight consecutive CCHA games since Nov. 4. The last time the Irish won six in a row was Feb. 13 to March 21, 2009 when they won 10 in a row … Holy Cross takes on Yale on Sunday looking to defeat the Bulldogs for the first time in five tries … Colorado College’s current five-game winless streak (0-4-1) is its longest since going 0-3-2 to end the 2008-09 season.