Jan. 10, 2015
U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. – Cole Gunner scored two goals late in the game to help lift Air Force to a 4-3 overtime win in an Atlantic Hockey Conference game Saturday, Jan. 10, at the Academy’s Cadet Ice Arena. Gunner tied the game with 3:18 left in the third and then netted the game-winner at 2:16 of overtime. Air Force earned its first series sweep since taking two from Mercyhurst, Feb. 7-8, 2014. The Falcons jumped into a tie for sixth place in the conference, 7-13-3 overall and 6-6-2 in the league. Niagara fell to 3-15-2 overall and 3-11-2 in the AHC.
With the win, Air Force head coach Frank Serratore earned his 300th victory at the Academy. He becomes just the 12th active coach in the NCAA to win 300 or more hockey games at his current institution.
Niagara opened the scoring at 3:25 of the first period when Luke Edwards cashed in after an Air Force turnover in its own end. Late in the period, the Purple Eagles took a 2-0 lead on the power play. After a center ice faceoff, three Falcons got tied up in a scrum at center ice and Niagara had a 2-on-1. Albin Karlsson fed Stanislav Dzakhov at 16:35 for a two-goal lead.
Air Force bounced back with two goals in the second period to tie the game. Both goals came in a span of three minutes as the Colorado kids combined for the first goal. Ben Carey (Centennial, Colo.) put the Falcons on the board at the 1:42 mark with a slap shot from the right side. Max Hartner (Greenwood Village, Colo.) took a shot that was saved and Dylan Abood (Centennial, Colo.) fed Carey in the right circle for his second of the season. The Falcons tied the game at the 4:41 mark on defenseman Johnny Hrabovsky’s first of the season. Jonathan Kopacka started the rush and Scott Holm made a perfect cross-ice pass right on Hrabovsky’s tape in the left circle.
In the third period, Niagara regained the lead when Lawrence Smith fired a slap shot from the center point at the 11:33 mark. After the Falcons killed a penalty, Air Force’s top line tied the game. Dan Weissenhofer took a shot that was deflected in front. Holm tipped it to Gunner who tied the game with 3:18 remaining.
Thirteen seconds into overtime, Holm took the puck to the front of the net and in the flurry, the puck went into the net. However, the goal was disallowed as the net rocked from its moorings and the puck went under the post. Later in the period, on the rush, Demers took a shot that was saved and Holm sent it down low to Gunner. Below the goal line, Gunner’s centering pass hit the skate of a Niagara player and went in at 2:16 of overtime.
Air Force outshot Niagara, 37-15, in the game. The Falcons were 0-for-5 on the power play while Niagara was 1-for-4. Chris Truehl made 12 saves for the Falcons while Jackson Teichroeb made 33 for the Purple Eagles.
In 122 minutes of hockey in the series, Air Force led for just 3:30 and came away with four points. The only lead of tonight’s game came in overtime when Gunner netted the game-winner. The only lead in game one came with 3:30 left in the third when Demers scored the game-winner. In the series, the Falcons’ top line combined for 13 points (4-9-13) in the series.
“We had to overcome some adversity in the first period, getting in a 2-0 hole,” Serratore said. “They were all over us in the first period. But a credit to our guys, they didn’t quit. They kept battling the entire game. We are going to have to get a lot better. We can’t keep falling behind in games. I didn’t even realize this was my 300th win. Thanks to the Academy for allowing me to be here long enough to win that many games. You don’t win without great players and great assistant coaches and I have been very fortunate.”
Air Force’s four-game home stand continues with a two-game series against conference and service academy rival Army, Friday-Saturday, Jan. 16-17at 7:05 pm MT each night at the Cadet Ice Arena.