New beginning, solid start: Northeast Generals earn 3-1 team win-read more

At the beginning of a new season, especially after your team did not make the playoffs, you want to start on the right foot. Tonight, the Northeast Generals did just that. They went on the road and earned a 3-1 win over the Danbury Junior Hat Tricks. Paul Minnehan put home a tough goal in the crease on a hard net front play, Jackson McCarthy got a goal off a defender’s leg and in, and Joe Schubert put home a turnaround wrister that was tough to stop. Carson Limesand made his debut in net for the Generals and did not look out of place. He played a calm game and often looked a step ahead of the shooters he was facing. He made the tough saves looked routine and only conceded a goal on a well placed slot deflection.

Head Coach Bryan Erikson noted that CJ Zezima and Landon Kolnik stood out in their debuts for generating chances and offense while being responsible with how the Generals wanted to play. Zezima comes to the Generals as a USPHL Premier Champion with the Charlotte Rush last year, and both forwards bring speed and energy to the group.

On the goals the Generals scored, Erikson had this to say

” Minnehan is a special player and finished a great play on a nice pass from Zezima. Jackson McCarthy had a monster summer and it was great to see him activate and get a great pass from Schubert who then busted up the ice to get to the net. Then finally a big scrum around the net where nobody quit on the play and Schubert was able to make a sweet turnaround shot for a goal.”

On Limesand’s play, Erikson noted how good he was, saying

“Carson Limesand was outstanding. Just a great debut. Really helped us settle down and keep some big mistakes from going in the net.”

One key turning point of this game came in the second period. Danbury scored their one salvo of the evening, and was pushing for a second before Joe Schubert put home the insurance marker on the night. That play was something the Generals wanted more of last year, and got it at a key moment in game one of this season. Erikson said of that marker and of the final ten minutes of the game :

“It’s huge. Last year we gave up a lot of leads so it was important for this team to make a new identity of becoming a team that bares down on plays. Joe was very good. And it was a huge goal. And in the last 10 minutes I thought we did a great job limiting their opportunities. [It was] a very good team win!”

Going forward, Erikson has said that he views the season in ten game segments. In this first one, the Generals have one more game to play against Danbury before preparing for the NAHL Showcase next week in Blaine where they play four games in four days against four teams from different divisions, the only time they play teams in the regular season outside of their division all year.

On the night, and getting ready for tomorrow, Erikson succinctly said:

“Well we played our lines the way we wanted them today which was a change. But I think guys realized how much faster they needed to make decisions. But the real test will be if they can do it back to back.”

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Frank Serratore on Air Force Hockey, Atlantic Hockey Expansion, and more

Photo Credit: Air Force Academy Athletics

“Any time you have do deal with adversity.. what doesn’t destroy you makes you stronger.” That mantra sums up the experience of the 2019-2020 Air Force Academy Falcons Hockey Team. A team that finished the year with only two juniors had its best weekend of the season in its final one, a series sweep of the Golden Griffins of Canisius at home where Frank’s group took it to one of the better teams in Atlantic Hockey this season, in their only regular season home series played at their rink in 2021. Of those two juniors, Serratore expects to see one playing regular minutes as a senior next season, starting goaltender Alex Schilling. For many nights, he was the best Falcon on the ice for Serratore’s group this season. In the season ahead, he will be their leader Frank often says ” you can buy everything at Walmart but experience.” The group this season earned theirs, and while the team still will have a lot of young players in key roles, the returners have earned a lot of experience playing in a tough season unlike any other. The Falcons only had a few true home games this season because of teams being in and out of Covid-19 protocols.

Hopefully, for Air Force Academy, their own need to deal with Covid-19 protocols because of tier one personnel testing positive is coming to an end. Cadet-athletes who are able to get their vaccines have been doing so. As a result, the team had to deal with long pauses this year which altered their preparation somewhat. Some days there would not be on ice practices, and others were made different by Serratore’s assistants. As he said ” we took some time off” he went on to praise the work of Associate Head Coach Joe Doyle and Assistant Coach Andy Berg Andy Berg as Frank said of the pauses ” you can almost practice too much .. coaches did a great job with keeping players involved.”

Going forward, the coaching staff has been vaccinated, and those unable to get their vaccines yet due to recently having Covid-19 itself should be able to do so over the summer months. Next season, the Falcons will venture out of the state of Colorado for one non-conference series, against Michigan State on the road. Serratore also scheduled games against local rivals Denver and Colorado College in part to minimize the amount of flights they need to take elsewhere during the season.

As for the conference Frank coaches in, he gave us his opinion on its potential future. While noting that this is Frank’s own opinion and being clear that decisions will be made by administrators of the conference, he went on to provide a road map for the future of Atlantic Hockey. Frank was honest about where the conference is, given that it has had only one representative in every national tournament since 2004 (the first year of Atlantic Hockey) all but one time, when Niagara and Canisius earned a trip to the postseason. That 2012-2013 Purple Eagles team is the only group in the history of Atlantic Hockey to earn an at large bid. Serratore noted his opinion, saying “I’m not so sure its great to be a part of a large one bid conference”. He suggested splitting in into two seperate leagues to guarantee all of its members two automatic qualifier spots as opposed to one.

Frank further suggested admitting teams like Alabama Huntsville and Long Island to make the split work, along with the potential third team that could be on the discussion agenda for this summer. In a general sense, of all independent programs currently in the game Frank said “to me it would make sense to take those schools, as many as possible and make two conferences out of them.” Later he noted that the ideal size for a league in this game is seven or eight schools. At either measure, it provides opportunities for a balanced in conference schedule, while allowing for more non conference opportunities for Atlantic Hockey teams, which currently can only play six non exempt games outside of their own league.

Frank was honest about where his league currently is, and gave his own opinion. On the logistics he said, “I think that would be a very wise business decision” in creating two conferences. He went on to discuss the two leagues creating a scheduling alliance going forward to provide non conference opportunities for each team each year. While we did not discuss what that would look like, he noted the value of having, as he said “two Cinderellas” and said that “Im sure the big schools wouldn’t be too happy about that.”

For the smaller programs in this game, Frank said, “For the have nots in college hockey I think it would be real beneficial.” Of Huntsville’s path, he said, “the people in Huntsville want to continue hockey… we sure cant afford to lose members.” In general of programs in this game he said the following ” we cant afford to have these programs dying on the vine.” He went on to echo the sentiments of other coaches we have talked to in this conference, saying ” Its important to keep all these programs alive.” From a development standpoint he said “there’s more good players than there are lockers out there.” Finally, he added, “we don’t want to have less opportunities, and there’s more kids that can play” at the Division One level than there are spots available for them to do so right now. Of the work that needs to be done, Frank ended this part of the interview on the saying simply, “we need to find a way.”

The Transfer Portal has enough student athletes in it to start 10-13 talented programs right now. The long term effect of this extra year of eligibility, while not experienced by Serratore’s Falcons, or Brian Riley’s Black Knights at Army West Point, effects every other team, as any player who was on a roster this year is allowed an extra year of eligibility. The program at service academies creates second lieutenants and builds leaders within 47 months. That does not change. Thus Riley and his staff are dealing with replacing eight skaters with freshmen, no transfers for his group or Frank’s.

While Serratore is excited about the depth and potential of his recruiting class coming in, he was honest about the process at Colorado Springs. When asked about seeing how good this group of commits coming from all around the country will be, while emphasizing developing them this summer, and over their first two years, he said ” ask me in two years.” Schilling and Willie Riem will be the on-ice leaders for the group next year, and both will play key roles in getting the Falcons back to their perch atop Atlantic Hockey that they lived at for the two seasons prior to AIC knocking them off it. The goal for Serratore every year is consistent, to have his team at their best going into the postseason. As he put it, “we will be the team come playoff time that no body wants to draw.” As for only having one senior Frank said “the bad news for us is we’ve only got one senior on our team .. the good news is that its Alex Schilling.”

On Serratore’s extensive coaching tree, like Brian Riley, he gets to coach against his former assistants. In this case, both of them happen to be behind the bench of Robert Morris. As he said of Derek Schooley and Mike Corbett, now behind the bench at Robert Morris, before proceeding to list the countless other former players of his that have become coaches,and other assistants that have gone on to lead programs, “I’m so very proud of both of them.”

As Corbett told us, Serratore cares about the game and is a passionate advocate for it. When Corbett came to Frank’s Denver team in 1992, Serratore looked beyond what presented itself, and saw Corbett as the whole person that he is. Coming to Denver in 1992, Corbett was a young father and husband and felt that Frank took a chance on giving him a scholarship and supporting Corbett’s young family. Frank disagreed, noting that, “to me, it was an easy decision.. when we were able to bring Mike and his wife up to the university of Denver … he just had a very mature air and a very mature perspective.. that was an immediate benefit even before he established himself as a player in our line up.” This story from Corbett and Serratore’s perspective on it shows that Serratore takes Jack Riley’s advice on coaching as serious as Brian does. As Jack said ” make sure show your players that you care for them more as people than as hockey players.”

It is clear from his decades of experience in this game, the stories of former players and assistants like Corbett’s, his love for growing the game of college hockey, and his ability to have perspective on his team’s work through a pandemic-marred season, combined with his hopes for next year, that Frank is living up to Jack’s advice, and inspiring future leaders in the Air Force to do the same with the airmen that they will lead upon graduation. In addition, he and Riley have inspired countless leaders to get involved in the game with coaching with that same mindset, and this sport is better off for having them in it.

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“He cares so much”, learn how RMU’s Mike Corbett developed his coaching philosophy from one of the game’s great coaches.

(Photo Credit: Justin Berl/RMU Athletics(

Mike Corbett is one of the most honest people we have ever interviewed in the game of college hockey. The former Alabama Huntsville Head Coach was up front about his record, and has no hard feelings towards anyone with how his time leading the program ended. He was Derek Schooley’s first choice for the assistant coach role when it opened, and the two worked together to make it a reality. Corbett had other options, but it was evident that the Robert Morris role made the most sense for him now, and it has paid dividends for the team because the Colonials are in first place in the Atlantic Hockey Conference, nationally ranked, and in position for an at large selection in the NCAA Tournament this spring.

Corbett shared with us a philosophy that guides how he operates, and one that is refreshing to hear on this and the rest of his interactions in life. He simply notes that “business is one thing, and friendship is another.” This philosophy has allowed Corbett to have a long career as a very successful assistant coach for the Air Force Academy, and got him back behind the bench with Robert Morris after leaving his Head Coach role with Alabama Huntsville.

That loyalty to players that Corbett has comes from a source many college hockey fans would know. Frank Serratore, the head coach at Air Force gave Corbett a chance to play for him when he was at Denver. As Corbett said, Frank took a chance on letting him play with the Pioneers as Corbett came to college as a 20 year old with a young son, and of that opportunity he said, “I could never repay him enough.”   

That was not at all the end of Corbett and Serratore’s time together, as a few years later, Corbett would end up working with Frank at the Air Force Academy for the next decade as an assistant. To this day, through the ups and downs of Corbett’s coaching career, and his life, he notes that Frank always has time to chat with him, and Corbett was effusive of the impact Frank has had on his life.

One of many things Frank did helped Corbett feel more confident as an assistant, and gave Mike a guide for his own choices later on as a coach. That is, Serratore let Corbett do a lot of things in the coaching world that assistants do not typically get the chance to do. In his time at the Air Force Academy, Frank has always been effusive of the honor of being the coach of Cadet-Athletes, and his leadership style empowers them, and all who work with him to have success. Corbett calls Serratore the “ultimate motivator”, and notes the value Frank’s honesty has had on him later on in any of his following roles. When Corbett needs advice, as he did when looking for his next role in the coaching world this summer he looked at two people of his vast network of friends and mentors for advice.

To sum all of the help Corbett has gotten up from Serratore in one quote is tough to do, but he came close by saying that, ” Frank is so great because he cares so much.” It is clear to us that Corbett cares a lot as well.

Back to his time at Robert Morris, Corbett is embracing his role as an assistant and fitting in with the Colonials quite well. He notes the success of a lot of the team, including Nick Prkusic, Randy Hernandez, and others as reasons for this team’s new residence as a nationally ranked side. On the bench for Robert Morris, Mike handles a lot of things, including running the penalty kill. Arguably the most important thing he does for this team during games is providing levity and a level head to it. That is, when the Colonials score, Corbett will be the one yelling something about playing the next shift hard and keeping the pressure up. When the Colonials are scored upon he is the one imploring his team to keep pushing for the next goal and so on.

Corbett focuses most of his time back on the ice, and loves working with Schooley and the staff at Robert Morris. This team is competing for a national at-large bid in the spring, along with having the pieces to be good for many years, as they only have three seniors, and some may come back due to the extra year of eligibility every student athlete is getting due to the pandemic.

Mike Corbett has learned a lot over his years as a coach, both leading and as an assistant, yet one thing is constant. He will forever have a spot in the wide world of hockey as long as he wants one, because, like his mentor Frank Serratore, Corbett cares so much about his players as whole people, and ones destined to get better both on and off the rink.

Donate: To help us cover more games and tell more stories not found elsewhere about all of college sports, especially under represented athletes everywhere across the college sports landscape like unique untold stories across college hockey. Please click the below link and consider donating what you can. If you do, I will list you in every story about we write as a supporter of crowd-funded  journalism that can truly be free for all at this link:

Your donation will help expand what content we can offer and how many stories we can tell.