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Tuesday @ The Rink

CHAT LIVE With Air Force Head Coach Frank Serratore

Welcome to the CSTV.com moderated chat room!

On Tuesday, January 16 at 1:00 p.m. ET, Air Force Head Coach Frank Serratore pays a visit to "Tuesday @ The Rink", presented by CSTV.com and USCHO.com. The Falcons host service academy rival Army in the first Atlantic Hockey series between the two teams on Saturday, January 20 at 8 p.m. ET on CSTV.

Frank Serratore

In his nine seasons at Air Force, Frank Serratore has taken the Falcons to new heights. He is the only coach in AFA history to lead the team to five consecutive 15-win seasons. Under Serratore, the Falcons have dominated the series against Army. Since his arrival, AFA is 12-6-1 vs. the Black Knights. The veteran head coach enters the 2006-07 season with a 130-173-19 record in nine seasons at Air Force. He has an overall mark of 179-265-28 in 13 seasons as a college head coach.

Serratore came to the Academy from the Manitoba Moose of the International Hockey League, where he was the director of hockey operations in 1996. He was the head coach and general manager of the Minnesota Moose (before they moved to Manitoba) in 1994 and 1995. He led the team to a 52-56-16 record in two seasons. Prior to his position in Manitoba, Serratore was the head coach at the University of Denver from 1990-1994. During that time, he led the Pioneers to a 49-91-9 record in four seasons and is credited with rebuilding a struggling Pioneer program. In 1995 and 1997, Pioneer teams which were recruited during his tenure made two NCAA final eight appearances and placed third in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association. Serratore was responsible for improving an out-dated program.

** GET YOUR QUESTIONS IN NOW!!: Frank won't be stopping by until 1:00 p.m. EST on Thursday, January 16th, and his time will be tight, so feel free to submit your questions now and we'll save them for his arrival!
CSTV.com Moderator: Hello, and welcome to CSTV.com's "Tuesday @ the Rink." We have two great chats today, so let's get started. We're joined now by Air Force head coach Frank Serratore.
Coach Serratore: Great to be here. I'm looking forward to answering your questions.

Zach (Highland Falls, NY): Do you think being in the same conference with Army will affect the rivalry between the two academies? If so, how?
Coach Serratore: Actually, I think it does have an effect. In the past, you've looked at this game as Army-Air Force, simply bragging rights, and all the things that go into a service academy game. This week, we're playing Army - everyone knows we're playing Army, you can't get away from that. However, the biggest thing now is they're two points ahead of us in the standings, and we've got four points in hand. We're looking a lot more at how this weekend affects the Atlantic standings than the rivalry itself. Before, it was the two games, and that was it. Now, there's four points on the line, we're together in the standings, and who knows? We might see each other again down the road in the playoffs. So yeah, it's different.

Ed (Boston): How would you say your team has done in adjusting to Atlantic Hockey? What are some of the biggest differences from the CHA?
Coach Serratore: We don't see a lot of differences in the two leagues. You've got 10 teams in this league as opposed to six when we were in the CHA, so just doing the numbers, there's more disparity between the top and the bottom. We don't see the competition level as being a whole lot different. We had a pretty good team last year and had some troubles scoring goals and some trouble with goaltending, or we would have finished a lot higher in the CHA standings. This season, our goaltending's a bit more consistent, and we're scoring more goals, and that's been the difference in this success we've had this year compared to last. We're doing quite well so far in Atlantic Hockey, and we have a 3-0 record against the teams from the CHA we've played so far.

Troy(Maplewood): Why did Air Force leave the CHA? Do you see the CHA lasting or is it done? What's going to happen to the remaining CHA teams then?
Coach Serratore: First of all, I'm not in a position to answer where the CHA is and where they're going. We're no longer members of that conference, so we're no longer privvy to that information. Regarding our move to Atlantic Hockey, it was basically three-pronged: First was scheduling. In the CHA, we had 20 league games, which gave us 10 at home, and I had to schedule 14 non-conference games. In Atlantic Hockey, we play 28 league games, which gives us 14 at home, and I only have to schedule six non-conference games, and two of those are home-and-homes with Denver and Colorado College, so I only have to schedule four non-conference games. As a result, we're playing a lot more at home in Atlantic Hockey than we were in the CHA. Number two was league stability. and being an outlying team to the west playing in the CHA we were one team leaving away from not having a confernece with an NCAA bid. Findlay folded a couple of years ago, and luckily Robert Morris came along. Then Niagara tried to go to the ECAC, and was not accepted. When we saw that happening, we felt we needed to get to a league with more teams and more stability, and Atlantic Hockey was the right fit for us. Lastly, Atlantic Hockey provides us with an opportunity to play in the same conference with Army. People forget that when we first formed the CHA, both Air Force and Army were charter members, but Army left after the first year. Around here, playing in the same conference with Army is a big deal.

John (Grand Rapids,, MN): You have a lot of former assistants in coaching (Motzko, Schooley,etc) do you take pride in the fact that they are doing well? How were the family reunions when BSU and your brother knocked you out of the playoffs. Is that difficult?
Coach Serratore: First of all, I take a lot of pride in my former players who decided to go into coaching. I feel that in some ways, I must have had a positive impact on their lives and their experience in hockey when they chose to pursue coaching as a profession. I follow their scores weekly and always wish them well. My brother and I work very hard at not allowing what we do to get personal. He does what he does and I do what I do, and our teams play each other. The players play the players. On the contrary, we often try to help each other out behind the scenes. For example, we will often times watch players for each other when scouting certain games. In many instances, there's differences in the student-athletes that are recruited by each of our schools. One example would be their being able recruit foreign students, which we can't do.

Peter - Troy, OH: My son is captain of the AJHL Hudson Valley Eagles. I understand that the AJHL is a league that you do not scout. How does a junior player get his tape to you so that you or your assistants can evaluate his talents to see if this is an overlooked player who could fit in and help your program? (As Barry Melrose once said "Teams look for kids who just know how to play the game")
Coach Serratore: They can go on our website, goairforcefalcons.com, and there's a mailing address on our website.

Minneapolis, MN: Two service academies playing against each other must be quite a rivalry and a battle. What are the differences and/or difficulties your coaching staff are challenged with in recruiting hockey players to play at the service academies versus regular college hockey programs?
Coach Serratore: First of all, there's a lot of differences. At the Air Force Academy, we need to recruit very good students who are good people, who are good hockey players, who qualify medically, are willing to accept a five-year commitment, and are U.S. citizens. Other than that, it's very easy! The catch-22 is a young man may have all but one of those characteristics or traits when they have to have all of them.

Wayne (Dayton): I was wondering what the process is for Air Force players to be stationed someplace where they can play pro hockey while serving their commitment. Could you see that happening with Eric Ehn after next season?
Coach Serratore: First of all, those situations have happened in the past and I'm sure they most likely will happen again in the future. A lot of it depends on the climate in the military. If we're deeply engulfed in a war, the chances are that that is less likely to happen than in times of peace. It appears to me to be a matter of timing, and there really are no guarantees.

Andrew: To what degree has Eric Ehn surpassed your expectations for this season?
Coach Serratore: We knew that Eric Ehn was going to be a very good offensive player at our level. He was an all-conference player in the CHA last year as a sophomore. To say that we anticipated he would be a Hobey Baker candidate would be a stretch. From my perspective, what's been most impressive about his performance this season is his even-strength point production and his ability to score against Denver, Colorado College and Alaska, who are or have been ranked teams.
CSTV.com Moderator: That is all the time we have with Coach Serratore this afternoon.
CSTV.com Moderator: That is all the time we have with Coach Serratore this afternoon.
Coach Serratore: Thanks so much for the questions. I had fun answering them. Go Air Force!

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