Falcon hockey team hands out hardware

U.S.A.F. ACADEMY, Colo. – Air Force senior Billy Devoney was the big winner at the 2006-07 Air Force Hockey banquet, presented by the Falcon Blue Line Club, at the Garden of the Gods Club, Sunday, April 15.

Devoney earned the Vic Heyliger, the Larry Cronk Inspirational and the Defensive Player of the Year Awards. Devoney is a two-time winner of the Cronk award.

The Heyliger Award, voted on by the team, is the cornerstone of Air Force hockey. It is awarded to the player whose dedication, character, leadership and work ethic exemplifies Falcon hockey. The Cronk Award, voted on by the team, is presented to the player whose play on the ice inspired his team and most typifies Falcon hockey.

Devoney set a new school record by playing in all 40 games. The team captain from Buffalo Grove, Ill., was a finalist for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award for character, leadership, academics and on-ice performance and was named to the Lowe’s All-American team. Devoney was named to the all-tournament team at the AHA Final Four. He scored five goals and had 15 points on the season. The biggest goal of his career came vs. Sacred Heart in the AHA semifinals. With AFA trailing 4-3 with under a minute left, Air Force pulled its goaltender and Devoney tied the game to force overtime. AFA won the game, 5-4 in overtime.

Junior center Eric Ehn earned the Chuck Delich Award. This award, voted on by the team, is named after the Falcons’ all-time leading scorer and the No. 13 scorer in the history of NCAA hockey. Delich still holds 14 AFA records and earned the Academy’s Athletic Excellence Award in 1976 and 1977.

Ehn became the first service academy player ever named as a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award. Ehn was a member of the Hobey Hat Trick, one of three finalists for college hockey’s top honor. The native of Dexter, Mich., Ehn was a second-team RBK/AHCA (coaches) East All-American and was chosen as a first-team All-American by InsideCollegeHockey.com and U.S. College Hockey Online. He is the first service academy player ever to earn AHCA All-American honors and the first AFA player to be named to any All-America team. He led the nation in scoring for most of the season, and ended the year ranked second in the nation with 24 goals and 40 assists for 64 points in 40 games. Ehn is a two-time winner of the Delich award.

Senior goalie Ben Worker took home the Jim Bowman Award and the Most Improved Player Award. The Bowman award is given to the team’s top scholar-athlete and is named after a man who has put his heart and soul into Air Force athletics.

Worker went from being a walk-on as a freshman to the team’s staring goalie in the second half of the season. After not starting a game for the first three and a half years, he started 13 of the last 19 games and won seven with three shutouts. The native of Thief River Falls, Minn., had a 2.25 goals-against average and a .896 saves percentage. His league goals-against average of 2.33 was the third-best in the AHA. Worker was named the AHA Goalie of the Week as he became the first Falcon tender to ever have a shutout in the playoffs. Worker stopped all 17 shots he faced in a 3-0 win over Holy Cross in the AHA quarterfinals. A two-time academic all-conference selection, Worker carries a 3.70 grade point average in physics. Worker is a two-time winner of the Bowman award.

Freshman Jeff Hajner won the John Matchefts Award as the freshman of the year. This award, voted on by the team, is named in honor of the Falcons’ second coach. A member of the United States Hockey Hall of Fame, Matchefts played on three national championship teams at Michigan from 1951-53.

Hajner set a new school record with 40 games played. The right winger from Las Vegas, Nev., was the team’s top freshman scorer with 13 goals and 14 assists for 27 points. He was fourth on the team in goals and points and ranked 31st in the nation in points by a rookie. He also ranked fourth in the AHA in points by a rookie in league games with 22. Hajner was twice named the AHA Rookie of the Week, scored 19 points in his last 19 games and netted AFA’s first goal vs. Minnesota in the NCAA West Regional in Denver.