Jan. 15, 2011
USAFA, Colo. - Air Force battled back from a three-goal deficit to tie the game in the second period, but the Black Knights scored two goals in the final four minutes for a 5-4 win in an Atlantic Hockey Association game Saturday, Jan. 15, at the Cadet Ice Arena. A sellout crowd of 3,019, the second highest of the season, watched as Army improved to 6-14-2 overall and 5-8-2 in the league. AFA fell to 9-9-3 overall and 7-5-3 in the conference.
Army opened the scoring less than two minutes into the first period and built a 3-0 lead in the opening period. Cody Omilusik tipped in a slap shot by Mike Hull to give Army a 1-0 lead at 1:58 of the first on the power play. Just over three minutes later, Omilusik scored his 11th of the season on a give-and-go play with Bryant Skarda in the left circle. After the goal, Jason Torf was replaced in goal by junior Stephen Caple. The Black Knights took a 3-0 lead with 48 seconds left in the period when Andy Starczewski scored unassisted. Starczewski stole the puck from an Air Force defenseman and went coast-to-coast for his fifth of the year. The Falcons got on the board with 18 seconds left in the period when Casey Kleisinger won a faceoff back to Adam McKenzie. Kleisinger then tipped in McKenzie's shot for his second of the year.
Air Force dominated play in the first five minutes of the second period and cut the Army lead to 2-1 in the first 77 seconds. Mike Walsh fed Paul Weisgarber who skated the puck behind the net and fed John Kruse out front for his seventh of the season. The middle of the second period was marred by a plethora of penalties, but after the dust settled, it was Air Force that tied the game. On the power play, Tim Kirby made a long outlet pass to a wide open Jacques Lamoureux at the Army blue line. Lamoureux skated in uncontested and netted his eight of the year at 17:35. Scott Mathis also assisted on the play.
The score remained deadlocked at 3-3 until late in the third period when Army's Mark Dube scored on the power play with 4:09 remaining. After an Army penalty, Air Force had a power play with 3:23 remaining, but was unable to convert. After Army killed the penalty, the Black Knights were called for a too many men on the ice penalty with 1:16 remaining. Air Force pulled its goaltender for a two-man advantage, trailing 4-3. On the ensuing faceoff, Omilusik collected a loose puck in the faceoff circle and backhanded the puck down the ice and into the empty net at 18:49 to complete the hat trick. The Falcons kept the goaltender out of the net and Weisgarber scored on the rush with 44 seconds remaining. Kyle DeLaurell and Jacques Lamoureux assisted on the play. Air Force continued to go with the extra attacker, but Army cleared the puck in the final seconds to hold on for the 5-4 win.
Air Force out-shot Army, 46-35, in the game. AFA was 2-for-8 on the power play while Army was 2-for-5. Black Knight goalie Ryan Leets made 42 saves in the game. Air Force freshman Jason Torf started the game and allowed two goals on five shots and was pulled after five minutes. Stephen Caple came in and closed out the first period, playing 15 minutes and stopping four of five shots he faced. Torf returned in the second period and played the final 40 minutes. He made several big saves in the second period, including a short-handed 2-on-1 breakaway late in the second period. Torf ended up taking the loss, allowing three goals and making 26 saves.
"Army came out and destroyed us in the first period. They were all over us," head coach Frank Serratore said. "We knew they would be and we failed to match their intensity. We were fortunate to get a faceoff goal late in the first period. But, typical for our team, instead of being proactive, we were reactive. When you spot some three goals, and you get out-goaltended, and you get out-special-teamed, you are probably not going to win. My hat is off to Army. Nobody can say they didn't deserve this one. When our backs are against the wall, we react and find a way to come from behind. We battled back and put ourselves in position to tie the game at the end, but we went to the well too many times. This is a tough pill to swallow but sometimes you get what you deserve."
Air Force travels to Storrs, Conn., for a two-game series against the UConn Huskies, Friday-Saturday, Jan. 21-22, at 7:05 p.m. ET each night.