Air Force Up-Ends Michigan In NCAA First Round
March 27, 2009
Courtesy of Air Force
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. - Andrew Volkening made a season-high 43 saves as Air Force advanced to the NCAA Elite Eight with a 2-0 win over third-ranked Michigan in the NCAA East Regional, Friday, March 27, at the Arena at Harbor Yard in Bridgeport, Conn. The victory sends Air Force into the regional final against the winner of tonight's Vermont/Yale game on Saturday, March 28, at 6:35 p.m. ET. Air Force was the No. 4 seed in the regional while Michigan was the top seed.
Air Force improves to 28-10-2 overall and earned its first ever win in the NCAA Tournament in three games. Michigan was playing in its 19th consecutive NCAA Tournament and its 32nd in the history of the program. The first-round exit was just the seventh in Wolverine history. Michigan finished its season at 29-12-0. The win marks the first NCAA win for an Academy team since the 1993 Falcon men's soccer team advanced to the Elite Eight.
Volkening, who was a first-team all-Atlantic Hockey selection during the regular season and was named to the AHA all-tournament team, made 16 saves in the first and third periods. He has recorded three consecutive shutouts and has not allowed a goal in 218 consecutive minutes, a span of four games and 11 periods.
Michigan controlled most of the play in the first period, but it was Air Force that took the lead into the intermission. Michigan had 1:19 of a 5-on-3 and the Falcons killed the two-man advantage. Air Force had just three shots on goal in the first period, but the third shot gave Air Force a 1-0 lead. Greg Flynn started the rush on the power play in his own end. Jeff Hajner skated the puck over the blue line and, after drawing a defenseman toward him, fed Derrick Burnett down the right side.
Burnett zipped a wrister high stick side over Bryan Hogan. Burnett was a game-time decision after suffering a strained groin in practice during the week. His eighth goal of the season, snuck under the cross bar and just inside the far post. Andrew Volkening made 16 saves in the period for the Falcons. The Falcons took a 2-0 lead midway through the second period. Flynn poked the puck up to the boards and Matt Fairchild skated down the right side.
He made a move past a Michigan defenseman and then slid the puck to Jacques Lamoureux in the center of the ice. The nation's leading goal scorer notched his 33rd of the season for a 2-0 advantage. The Falcons held the 2-0 lead entering the third period. Michigan again dominated the time of possession in the third period and outshot Air Force, 16-5, in the final 20 minutes. With five minutes remaining, Michigan forward Matt Rust collected a rebound in the slot and fired a wrister that hit the right post and caromed away.
With just under three minutes remaining, the Falcons had a 2-on-1 rush and Brent Olson's shot was knocked away by Hogan's blocker at the last moment. With 2:36 remaining, the Wolverines pulled their goaltender from the net in favor of the extra skater, but were unable to score. In the final 2:36, Michigan had eight shot attempts, Volkening made two saves, two were wide of the net and four were blocked by the Falcon defensemen.
Head Coach Frank Serratore Opening statement:"Well everything happened that needed to happen for us tonight, we had several bounces go our way, we found a way to get a lead...you get behind teams with that kind of speed, and things get worse. We were fortunate to get some bounces, we had an incredible game in goal from Volkening and we were fortunate to win a huge game."
On the Colorado and Denver series:"We were on a little journey there, we won 13 in a row. We didn't know how to deal with adversity because everything was going our way. Then we went on a little funk. Over the course of the season, that tough stretch in the middle allowed us to be a more resilient team. The guys didn't want to let anyone down."
On staying aggressive throughout the game:"The biggest thing is, we knew we couldn't stop Michigan's speed. When you look at the game, they had a lot of shots. But how many second shots did they get? Our game plan was to keep them outside, put them wide and defend away from the puck. We knew they were going to get shots, but we knew if they scored we wanted it to be one-shot goals. Getting second shots on Volkening is hard, but my hat is off to the guys."
On tomorrow night's game:"I haven't thought about it, I'm just so happy for our kids and our program and alumni, it's just awesome, I'm so proud of those guys. Right now we are going to savor this one. We'll deal with Yale and Vermont starting tomorrow, right now is time to savor this moment a little bit."
On the senior class:"I can't say more about these kids. They won 11 games their freshman year and we lost a bad game in the playoffs. Since that time this group has been special. Volkening brought stability to the goal and once we got that, we started to play with more confidence. You can't play afraid to make mistakes and that's what Volkening has done. He's allowed this team to play free...you can't win without a top notch goaltender and I can't say enough about this class and Volkening."
Thoughts on Burnett's goal: "Burnett was a healthy scratch before the game, the team doctor said he was 70% at best...he (Derrick Burnett) said, `Not only will I play, I'll make a difference.' Here's a kid that's been great all year and he is one of our core guys. I owe it to this kid and he gets the puck on his stick and zips it home."
Sophomore forward Jacques Lamoureux On Andrew's play: "When you are going to build a successful team, you need a solid goalie. We build off his confidence and he makes those saves early and we built off it. If things don't go his way, he doesn't get rattled or anything like that. His confidence helps the team's confidence."
Thoughts on Michigan:"When you get a team with that kind of speed and skill, when you take way that space. That frustrates you as a player and you could tell they were getting frustrated. Defensively we were all over them but you got to give them credit, they kept coming and Volkening was there to keep the pucks out. That's a great Michigan team."
Junior goaltender Andrew Volkening On experience the last two seasons in the NCAA tournament: "I think it gives you a little bit of confidence playing against top notch offenses like that."
Thoughts towards the end of game:"I was just going right until the end. They have a high powered offense so I don't take anything for granted in a tournament like this."
Opening Statement Head Coach Red Berenson:"This was a disappointing loss for our team. We expected a tough game and got one. This was not an upset. This was a very tough Air Force team. They held on to the lead. Congratulations to them. Give their team a lot of credit. Their goalie played a tremendous game. We couldn't ask anymore of our team tonight.
On preparation:We were very prepared. This was not an upset, this was not a surprise. Our team was focused and we worked very hard. I think from time to time I think they realize that this team is really good. When we did get our moments, we needed to put the puck in goal.
Air Force Game Notes - Air Force finished with 13 shots on goal, the fourth lowest total in NCAA Tournament history. - This is Air Force's third straight trip to the NCAA Tournament and its first-ever win. - The NCAA win was the second all-time for Atlantic Hockey. Holy Cross defeated Minnesota in a first round game in 2006. - It was Air Force's third straight shutout. - Andrew Volkening recorded his fourth shutout of the season and has not allowed a goal in the last 218:08 minutes of play. He has not allowed a goal since the second period of the Atlantic Hockey quarterfinals against Sacred Heart. - Jacques Lamoureux leads the nation in goals per game; his second period goal was his 33rd of the year. - Defenseman Greg Flynn now has 35 assists in 40 games. - With this game, Air Force ties a team record with most games in one season, 40. The 2006-07 team went 19-16-5 overall that season (total of 40 games). - Since 2007, Air Force is the only team to win a conference championship each of the last three years. - Air Force is now 22-1 when leading after two periods. - The Falcons' 28 wins this year are a school record. - Jacques Lamoureux is one of 10 finalists for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award. He was the 2009 Atlantic Hockey Player of the Year. - Lamoureux is Air Force's second Hobey Baker Finalist. Eric Ehn was the other back in 2007.