If junior Erik Baskin is going to score a goal, there is a 75 percent chance it’s happening on a Friday night. Three of his four this season have come in series openers, including the past two weekends. The 6-foot-3 winger from Minnetonka, Minn., has hit double figures in goals in each of his first two seasons (10, 12) and is a good bet to hit that milestone again, especially with Niagara coming to town this weekend – a team he scored five times against in four games last season. I fed him some sweet passes for this latest edition of One-timers.
What is the mood like around the team this week after last weekend’s tough series at Holy Cross?
Obviously not the outcome we were looking for but you can’t sit here and dwell on it, you don’t have time, especially in this conference, to sit back and look at what could have been. We’re pushing on, looking to this weekend against Niagara and being back in our building. We love playing in our building. We’re looking forward to Friday night, putting our best foot forward and hopefully coming out with a win.
Why does Air Force have such a strong home-ice advantage?
I think the altitude comes into play for visiting teams, it gets tiring. It’s a point of pride for us playing at home for our fans, having the cadets come down to the games. Just the rink itself, I think it’s the best rink (in Atlantic Hockey). It’s just fun to play in. It’s got big corners and it’s a pretty big ice sheet. Not all sheets are made equal, even the “NHL” sized rinks aren’t all equal. At the rink last weekend (at Holy Cross) the corners are about a quarter as deep as they are here. All the rinks are different. We enjoy playing here for a lot of reasons.
Do you have a favorite road trip?
Freshman year we played at the Ralph Englestad Arena in North Dakota, and that was probably the coolest rink I’ve ever played at. If we ever got to go to Mariucci (Minnesota’s rink) that would be pretty cool. In our conference I’d I like RIT’s rink. It was a brand new facility.
Your family has quite a history of military service, so I wonder if that was part of the draw for you to come to the Academy?
It wasn’t so much the family history, though both of my grandpas are happy that I chose this route. It was just the overall package when you include the military side, the character and leadership development, the unbelievable academics, that’s a huge thing I was looking for. I always wanted to go to an Ivy League-like school then pair that with great Division I hockey. This team’s got a chance to win Atlantic Hockey Conference every year and has a chance to play in the tournament every year. Everything together made it a no brainer for me.
Is there one element of Academy life you’ve particularly enjoyed?
It’s pretty stereotypical, but just the type of guys you’re around. Guys would say that on any team, but the type of guys we have around, Air Force hockey players, I would say it’s the best guys you’re going to find around. Just a bunch of high-character guys that always have your back and you’ll be friends with the rest of your life. It’s special just to come in and form a bond with those guys.
What is the breakfast of champions?
I love my cereal, particularly my Mini-Wheats, maybe some fruit, some pancakes.
Did you have a favorite player growing up in Minnesota?
I’ve always liked Sidney Crosby. I named my dog after him back in 2006. He’s been my favorite player since he got in the league in 2005. I’ve always been a big Pittsburgh Penguins fan and was pretty happy when they won the Cup last year.
Is there a comedian on the team we need to know about?
Tyler Rostenkowski is about as funny as they get, a salesman-type guy, real talkative. He can pretty much talk your ear off about just about anything and make it interesting. He’s a good guy to have around.
Are you particular about any pieces of your gear?
Not really, it’s just gear. The one thing that happens, just about every period, is someone will step on your stick and they cut into your tape job and it gets all messed up. So if my tape job isn’t perfect after every period I’ll re-tape it. It’s something I’ve always done.
Did you play any other sports growing up?
Yeah I played baseball all the way until sophomore year of high school. Until high school it was 50-50, I was really into baseball in the summer. Even in Minnesota I never played AAA hockey or any summer hockey. I always put away the skates and played baseball in the summer, which I thought was awesome. It helped be a better athlete and more well-rounded. … I think sport specialization is happening way too early.
Are you a music fan?
I love country music. I like Darius Rucker a lot.
What is the best Christmas present you ever received?
In 2004 or so is the first year my dad made our rink our back yard. That was my present that winter, and he’s still making it every year to this day for my sister. He puts up boards. It’s 100 x 40 feet. Full-on 4-5-foot boards and a liner and fills it up. It was a huge part of me getting better and having fun playing the game.