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HOCKEY: Serratore commits to play for uncle at Air Force Academy

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PENTICTON, B.C. -- Matt Serratore had something of a built-in advantage when it came to choosing where he wanted to play his college hockey.

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Serratore, the former Bemidji High School standout, had a perfect counselor: His dad, BSU head coach Tom Serratore.

“Having my dad know the business was really helpful for me,” Serratore said Thursday. “He’s a good counselor and helped me a lot.”

Matt Serratore

Serratore’s college decision, naturally, was a cinch: He announced Thursday that he’ll play for his uncle Frank at the Air Force Academy starting in 2015.

The 19-year-old forward might not be flying F-16s anytime soon -- Serratore said he wasn’t sure exactly what he was going to major in -- but he knew the strong academics combined with the high level of hockey was exactly what he wanted.

“I went out there on a visit at the end of the summer and thought it was a great fit,” Serratore said of his decision. “They’ve been very successful recently and have been playing some good hockey.”

The Falcons are 7-4-5 this season and are atop the Atlantic Hockey standings. They’ve made five NCAA tournament appearances since 2007.

“Plus, I liked the campus and it’s got great academics, which is what I was looking for,” Serratore added. “Those things combined really made it an easy decision.”

Currently playing for the Penticton Vees of the British Columbia Hockey League, Serratore has four goals and 10 points in 35 games in his first year in the league.

Although he was a top scorer in his high school days at Bemidji -- in his senior year Serratore led the Lumberjacks in scoring in the regular season, tallying 21 goals and 31 points in 25 games -- his role at Penticton has changed slightly. He’s been a go-to penalty killer for the Vees and usually plays on the team’s checking lines, matched against the opponent's top lines because of his high ability to play defense.

“I’ve been playing a little different role in juniors, but I like it,” the 5-foot-9, 162-pound winger said. “I go out there and try and create a lot of energy, do a lot of backchecking.”

In a press release announcing the commitment, Vees president, general manager and head coach Fred Harbinson said Serratore’s game was a perfect fit for the Falcons.

“Matt ’s work ethic and hockey IQ is his strength,” he said. “He continues to grow as a player and will be a great addition for Air Force in 2015.”

Serratore said he still has some work to do before entering college but is glad for the opportunity.

“I just know playing the college game is a very high level,” he said. “I’ve got to work hard to improve on a lot of things before I get there, but I’m excited.”

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Jack Hittinger
Jack Hittinger is a sports reporter for the Bemidji Pioneer, focusing on Bemidji State but also covering area high schools. He hails from the Great State of Michigan. Read his Bemidji State blog at http://thebeaverblog.areavoices.com/ and follow him on Twitter at @Jackhitts.
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