COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- For years, Chuck Delich was Air Force hockey on the ice and then behind the bench. In many ways, the longtime academy supporter still is.
For years, the banner recognizing the 1977 graduate on the south wall of Cadet Ice Arena was the only one hanging because it takes a national honor to qualify. Defenseman Eric Ehn joined him in 2008 followed by blue-liner Greg Flynn, goalie Andrew Volkening and forward Jacques Lamoureux.
Delich, 56, is glad to see more banners hanging, though he jokes being the only black and white image makes him feel old. But it also makes his induction at Saturday's Air Force Academy Hall of Fame ceremony a symbolic recognition of his teammates in the small black and white photos in the rink's Wall of Fame.
"Hockey is a true team sport and I would not have been as successful without good players as teammates," he said. "Being with the rest of the guys is what I miss the most."
For coach Frank Serratore, hanging a wall banner recognizing his friend, who ranks 12th (279 points, 156 goals) on the NCAA career scoring list, was a no-brainer. The two-time team Most Valuable Player has that award named after him. The former center still holds 14 school records.
"For the longest time, he was the only player at that level," Serratore said of the school's all-time career scoring leader.
Time certainly hasn't diminished Delich's passion for the academy and its hockey program, which has played a huge role in the life of the man who works in commercial insurance for Wells Fargo.
"It's not in Chuck's DNA not to support Air Force hockey," Serratore said. "He is a good player and an even better person. He's been a terrific supporter of me and the program."
After leading the team in scoring all four years, the Eveleth, Minn., native spent the next four as a maintenance officer in the Air Force before returning to the academy as an assistant coach in 1981.
"It was a great opportunity to get back to the academy and work with a lot of good guys," Delich said. "I owe a lot to the academy."
He moved into the top job for the retiring John Matchefts in 1986. His 154 victories from 1986-1997 tied Matchefts for second all-time. He retired as a major in 1993.
Serratore took over the program after Delich and has led it to the NCAA Tournament four times, including the program's first win, much to Delich's delight.
"I have a great affection -- like anyone else who's been here -- for the academy," he said.
He still is Air Force hockey in ways that go beyond the record books, even if it is his lasting legacy as a coach and as a player -- he is 51 points ahead of No. 2 Bob Sajevic on the all-time scoring list -- that makes him the obvious inaugural hockey inductee.
"If another was inducted first, it wouldn't be right," Serratore said.