U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. – Freshman Connor Girard made 25 saves in his first career start as Air Force defeated Army, 3-1, in an Atlantic Hockey Conference game, Saturday, Jan. 17, at the Cadet Ice Arena. The Falcons earned a series sweep of the Black Knights and are now unbeaten in the last eight games against Army. Air Force extended its winning streak to four games and improved to 9-13-3 overall and 8-6-2 and tied for sixth in the AHC. Army fell to 5-16-2 overall and 5-13-2 in the league.
In an evenly-played first period, it was Air Force that lit the lamp first with one of the strangest goals of the season. Freshman defenseman Jonathan Kopacka scored his first career goal with a wrister from the red line that beat Army goalie Parker Gahagen high to the blocker side. Freshman defenseman Kyle Mackey collected his first career point on the play with the only assist.
Midway through the second period, Army capitalized on a Falcon turnover to tie the game. As Air Force ripped the puck around the boards behind its own net, Clint Carlisle intercepted the pass and sent the puck slowly toward the goal. Just as Girard was about to cover up, Brendan McGuire tipped it in at 8:29. With 4:51 left in the period, Army’s Tyler Pham was called for a five-minute major for slew-footing and given a game misconduct. Fifty-nine seconds into the Falcon power play, Nick DeCenzo had a short-handed breakaway and was interfered with by Cole Gunner. DeCenzo was awarded a penalty shot, but his back-hand effort slid slowly into the pad of Girard. Air Force took the lead 35 seconds later on the power play when Chad Demers score his fourth of the series and ninth of the season at 16:43. Scott Holm and Cole Gunner assisted on the play.
Air Force took a 3-1 lead at 7:31 of the third period when Scott Holm scored his team-leading 11th of the season. Dylan Abood created a turnover in the Army end and Holm flipped the puck into the air and over an Army player. Once the senior left winger settled the puck down in the slot, he ripped a wrister through the five-hole for a two-goal lead. The second half of the period saw numerous penalties called on both teams. Army pulled its goaltender late, but was unable to score.
Air Force outshot Army, 35-26, in the game. AFA was 1-for-6 on the power play while Army was 0-for-5. Parker Gahegan made 32 saves for the Black Knights.
The Falcons travel to Springfield, Mass., for a two-game series against the AIC Yellow Jackets, Friday-Saturday, Jan. 23-24, at 7:05 pm ET.