U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. – Air Force scored three unanswered goals in the second period and then held off Canisius for a 3-2 win in an Atlantic Hockey Conference game Saturday, Feb. 17, at the Cadet Ice Arena. Air Force swept the two-game series and improved to 17-13-4 overall and 12-11-3 in the league.
After a scoreless first period, Canisius (15-15-2, 15-11-0 AHC) struck first as junior Dylan McLaughlin scored with a wrister from the left circle at 5:56 of the second. The Falcons answered with three straight goals, the first coming 60 seconds after McLaughlin scored. Jordan Himley intercepted a pass in the Canisius end and scored his second of the weekend and eighth of the season at 6:56. The Falcons took the lead on the power play after Matt Serratore drew a penalty. Tyler Ledford slid the puck down the goal line from the left side boards to Baskin in front. Baskin’s shot was saved, but Brady Tomlak cleaned it up on the back door at 12:07. Senior Ben Kucera gave the Falcons a 3-1 lead at 15:35 with a wrister from the left circle. Zach Mirageas and Dan Bailey assisted on Kucera’s fourth of the season, and the 10th game-winner of his career.
Midway through the third period, the Griffs cut into the Falcon lead on the rush. Nick Hutchison tipped in a centering pass from McLaughlin at 6:51. In the final 90 seconds, Canisius pulled its goalie in favor of the extra attacker. Canisius had six shot attempts in the final 90 seconds, four were blocked by the Falcon defensemen and two were saved by Christopoulos.
Air Force outshot Canisius, 41-26, in the game. Air Force was 1-for-2 on the power play while Canisius was 0-for-3. Billy Christopoulos made 24 saves while Daniel Urbani made 38 for the Griffs.
“We found a way to win this one and I’m very, very proud of the guys,” head coach Frank Serratore said. “It wasn’t pretty, but we gutted it out. This was a playoff type of game. In the last four games, we want to become the team that we want to take into the playoffs. We did that in these two games. For us, it is about the process. To win, first you have to deserve to win. Now we go out to Robert Morris with playoff positioning on the line.”
Air Force hits the road for the final regular-season series at Robert Morris, Feb. 23-24, in Pittsburgh, Pa.