We begin the preview today with a note from the editor, as I will always be impartial on this here blog but my cousin is a member of the Air Force Falcons. Kyle Haak, who will be a junior forward this season, is my cousin which I am incredibly proud of but also benefits me in writing this preview. Just like MSU has been my lifetime team affording me more knowledge of the Spartans, following Air Force these last two seasons has given me more knowledge than I ever had about Atlantic Hockey.
Last season was an incredibly special season for the Falcons, possibly the best season for an Atlantic Hockey team since RIT made their magical run to the Frozen Four in 2010. The 27 wins for Air Force last year was the best since 2008-09, a year when Air Force also won a 1st round NCAA game against a team from Michigan (UM in 20009, Western Michigan last season). The Falcons, who had a chance to win the regular season title on the last game of the year before losing to Sacred Heart, made a run in the league tournament to secure an NCAA bid. An out of conference win over Boston College and ties against Ohio State and Western Michigan on the road had played the Falcons to the bubble of an at-large berth to the tournament. The Falcons even played Denver to a one goal loss last season.
The Falcons return an incredibly tight and special junior class this season that hit their stride last season. The Falcons will have chances out of conference to pick up key pairwise points against Bemidji State and Denver but like last year will probably need an Atlantic Hockey Playoff Championship to return to the NCAA Tournament. What looked like a clear favorite last April, quickly turned into a foggy future when super goaltender Shane Starrett signed an NHL contract with the Edmonton Oilers, foregoing his final two years of eligibility. Air Force will still be in the mix for the top of the league but will have more questions to answer to repeat as champions.