US AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. – The Air Force hockey team announced its award winners for the 2021-22 season.
Sophomore defender Luke Rowe earned three awards while senior goalkeeper Alex Schilling and junior Andrew Kruse each earned two.
Rowe was the co-recipient of the Vic Heyliger Award, while also receiving the Larry Cronk Award and the Defender of the Year award. The heiler, which the team has voted for, is the cornerstone of Air Force hockey. It is awarded to the player whose dedication, character, leadership and work ethic are an example of Falcon hockey. Cronk, who the team has voted for, is awarded the team’s most inspiring player. The team’s award for defender of the year is awarded to the player who the coaching staff believes was the team’s most diligent defender.
As he entered the 2021-22 season, Rowe was selected as the team captain by his teammates. His leadership with the young Falcons was the key to the team’s success this season. His physical character set the tone for a team selected as number nine in the preseason poll to reach the championship game. Rowe, from Succasunna, NJ, played in 35 games and was number five on the team with six goals and was ninth on the team with 16 points. He led the team with 57 blocked shots, was number two on the team with three power-play goals and scored the winner of the match against Canisius on December 3rd.
Schilling was the co-recipient of the Vic Heyliger Award and also received the Chuck Delich MVP Award. The Delich, which the team voted for, is named after the Falcons’ leading goal scorer and No. 1 goal scorer in the history of college hockey.
Schilling, from Medina, Minn., Was selected as team captain by his teammates, the first goalkeeper to serve as captain of the Air Force since 1991-92. His leadership was crucial for the Falcons to exceed expectations and reach the AHA Championship. Schilling, who also received the Delich Award as a sophomore, started 34 of the 36 matches. He led the Falcons to victories over Michigan State and Colorado College and had a career-high 42 saves against third-ranked Denver. He got his first shutout of the season, and the second of his career, with a 1-0 overtime win over RIT on senior night. He then stopped 64 of 70 in a pair of overtime wins at West Point to send the Falcons to the AHA Final Four.
Kruse, from Delano, Minn., Was the co-recipient of the award for the most improved player the team voted for, and the Jim Bowman Scholar-Athlete Award. Kruse’s versatility proved extremely valuable to the Falcons this season. A defender, Kruse stepped in to play right wing in several games due to injury. He was one of the team’s top six defenders in the last six games when the team ran for the AHA title fight. Off the ice, Kruse has a GPA of 3.85 this season for an overall cumulative GPA of 3.60 as a major in economics.
Clayton Cosentino earned the John Matchefts Award, voted by the team as the team’s best freshman. Cosentino was among the league’s top-scoring freshmen all season. He finished fourth on the team with seven goals and 24 points. The center from San Carlos, California, was also among the league’s best faceoff men. He led the team with 358 faceoff wins and a winning percentage of 0.547 and led the league in a draw defensive zone, winning 62 percent.
Brandon Koch, from Hastings, Minn., was the co-recipient of the Jim Bowman Scholar Athlete Award. Koch was a third-team defender throughout the conference as he was number two in the league in assists with 22. He finished second on the team with 25 points, including two powerplay goals and a winner of the game. He played in all 36 games and was the AHA defender of the month in February. Off the ice, Koch has a GPA this season of 3.81 for an overall cumulative GPA of 3.78 as a major in surgical research.
Jasper Lester, from Colorado Springs, Colo., was the co-recipient of the award for Most Improved Player. After not seeing much ice time in the first half of the season, Lester was a solid man on the Falcon blue line in the second half. He played in 27 games and was among the Falcons’ top six defenders for most of the second half of the season.