Feb. 11, 2012
NIAGARA, N.Y. - Air Force battled back from a 3-1 deficit to force a 3-3 overtime tie with Niagara in an Atlantic Hockey Association game Saturday, Feb. 11, at Dwyer Arena in Niagara, N.Y. Stephen Carew scored two goals for the Falcons, including the game-tying goal in the third period.
Air Force is now 15-7-7 overall this season and 13-4-6 in the AHA. Niagara is 12-10-8 overall and 11-6-6 in the league. Air Force remains in first place, one point ahead of RIT. Niagara is in fourth place in the league, four points behind the Falcons. Air Force's unbeaten streak reaches eight games (5-0-3), the second longest active streak in the nation and AFA's longest since an eight-game winning streak late last season.
Early in the first period, Falcon freshman Dan Weissenhofer was hit by Niagara's Ryan Murphy and Murphy was given a five-minute major (contact to the head) and game misconduct. On the power play, Stephen Carew sent a wrister from the right point through traffic that beat Chris Noonan high blocker side. Paul Weisgarber and Scott Holm assisted on Carew's sixth of the season, first on the power play. Air Force went back on the power play when George Michalke drew a penalty, but this time it was Niagara that scored. With Air Force breaking out of its own zone, several Falcons were going off for a line change. As the puck came up the boards in front of the Air Force bench, Marc Zanette picked it off and skated down the right side. He fed Giancarlo Iuorio who tied the game with a short-handed goal at 6:25. After goal, Falcon defenseman Scott Mathis was called for a five-minute major (contact to the head) and game misconduct. Air Force killed off the major, but later in the period, back-to-back penalties were called on Weissenhofer and Paul Weisgarber and the Purple Eagles had 1:47 of a 5-on-3 advantage. Niagara forward Patrick Divjak gave the Purple Eagles a 2-1 lead at 13:16 with a wrister from the right point.
Midway through the second period, Niagara took a 3-1 lead on Zanette's 10th of the season. Iuorio sent a pass through the slot that deflected off of a Falcon defenseman and right on the stick of Zanette who went high to beat Jason Torf. Late in the second period, the Falcon fourth line scored to make the score 2-1. George Michalke won a faceoff in the offensive zone and it led to a flurry in front of Noonan. Holm picked up a loose puck on the weak side and went high over the shoulder of Noonan with 61 seconds left in the period. Linemates Michalke and Ryan Timar assisted on Holm's second of the season.
As Niagara was breaking out of its own zone in the third period, Carew stepped in front of a pass at his own blue line and took two steps to the top of the right circle. His wrister beat Noonan high for his second of the game at 7:01 to tie the score at 3-3. Late in the period, Kyle De Laurell was called for slashing and the Purple Eagles were on the power play with less than a minute remaining in the third. The power play carried over into the overtime period. In overtime and on the penalty kill, senior team captain Paul Weisgarber won the opening draw, then blocked a shot and had a clear as the Falcons killed the penalty. Niagara had two shots in overtime and Air Force had one, but neither team scored.
Niagara outshot Air Force, 29-22, in the game. AFA was 1-for-6 on the power play while Niagara was 2-for-6. Torf made 26 saves for the Falcons while Noonan made 19 for the Purple Eagles.
"This was a good tie for us," head coach Frank Serratore said. "We've had some bad ties this season, but this was a character tie considering we trailed 3-1. Niagara played with a sense of urgency tonight. They are a good team and were desperate for two points. The first two periods they had more energy than we did. Then our fourth line scored that goal late in the second and really energized us. This one point was huge."
Air Force returns home for a two-game league series against Mercyhurst, Friday-Saturday, Feb. 17-18, at the Academy's Cadet Ice Arena.