I have to admit I am normally not the most festive or contemplative of people, but something about Veterans Day feels a bit different. It is I suppose a bit cliche, and certainly not enough, to thank the Veterans and current service people for all they do on one day per year, but on the other hand having their own special day is nice, and the least we can do.
The young men and women attending our service academies are among the finest in the country, and to me their sacrifice goes above and beyond. While most players play division one hockey with the goal or at least the dream of playing in the NHL, these men realize that unless there is an exceptional set of circumstances their career is over in four years. And while a lot of college kids are attending school to enjoy four years of partying and slacking off before joining the real world (I know that was my goal) these kids are sacrificing that to prepare for years of military service, and the (much higher these days) possibility of going to war.
I am reminded of a section in the book A Civil War, which chronicles a year of the Army-Navy football rivalry, in which the coaches mentioned that practice was the easiest part of the players’ days. The sacrifices these kids make is astounding to me and one that I couldn’t even imagine making.
Only Army and Air Force have division 1 hockey programs (cmon Navy, let’s get with the program) so in the spirit of honoring these kids, a very special Veterans Day weekend preview:Air Force at RIT/Mercyhurst
The Falcons have played two more Atlantic Hockey conference games than anyone else in the conference, but sit atop the league three points clear of second place Mercyhurst. RIT has struggled a bit to start the year with 4 points in their first 5 games played.
The Falcons suffered what could have been a catastrophic injury to Sophomore goalie Jason Torf earlier in the year, but Senior Stephen Caple has stepped up big time, posting a 1.81 GAA and a .919 save percentage. With Torf’s earliest return date looking like late December, it’s possible Caple has seized the job for good. Offensively it doesn’t get much better than a player named Cole Gunner leading the Falcons in scoring. Also off to a nice little start is Fargo, ND native Paul Weisgarber. Weisgarber set a career high for assists last year with 12, and is already almost half way there this year with 5 in his first 9 games.
Two wins by the Falcons this weekend would put them at least five points clear in Atlantic Hockey and at least seven ahead of RIT, most people’s choice for Atlantic Hockey champion.
Army at Sacred Heart/vs. Bentley
The Black Knights are struggling this year with just one point in their first three Atlantic Hockey contests, but have a chance to get healthy this weekend with games vs. last place Sacred Heart and Bentley, who have 4 points but are just 2-6-1 overall on the year.
Army’s main problem has been scoring goals, as their 1.67 goals per game ranks 54th in the country. Andy Starczewski has been great however, with 4 goals in the team’s 6 games, which is tied for 3rd in Atlantic Hockey in goals per game. Sadly for the Black Knights they haven’t been great at keeping the puck out of the net either, as their 4.17 goals allowed per game ranks 55th nationally.
Army probably doesn’t have a chance to become every NCAA Tournament team’s second favorite team next Spring, but they do have a decent chance to get to five points after this weekend and vault themselves into the thick of the Atlantic Hockey race. But even if they don’t these young men should be celebrated for their efforts both on and off the ice.