Air Force’s Michalke eager to finish strong
By Matt Mackinder
George Michalke is hoping his senior year at the Air Force Academy goes a lot smoother than his 2012-13 season.
Just five games into that campaign, Michalke took a serious hit in a game against Canisius College, which sidelined him the rest of the season with concussion-like symptoms.
He returned in 2013-14 after a medical redshirt and is now in his last year at the Academy.
“When that happened, so much went through my mind,” said Michalke, a 24-year-old forward from Parma, Ohio. “When will I play again? Will the doctors clear me? Those sorts of things.
“There was some thought about never playing hockey again, but things started to work in my favor. It was almost like I was given a second opportunity to reanalyze my game and how I wanted to come back.”
Throughout the setback, Michalke said he received never-ending support from his family, Air Force teammates and coaches – even former Falcons players he never met.
“My teammates would text or call me or come see me when they were out east,” he said. “The support system was just incredible.”
Michalke says witnessing success on a team level this season is his top priority.
“We want to win games, but also want to win when it matters most – in the playoffs,” said Michalke. “We haven’t done that the past few years, but the guys all have the same focus and the seniors want to go out on a high note.”
A management major, Michalke has a government job in waiting once he graduates next spring.
“That’s one of the perks of going to the Academy,” he said. “I haven’t thought about that too much yet, though; all my focus right now is on school and hockey.”