Feb. 17, 2012
U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. - John Kruse, Stephen Carew and Chad Demers each scored two goals and Jason Torf stopped all 20 shots he faced as Air Force beat Mercyhurst, 8-0, in an Atlantic Hockey Association game Friday, Feb. 17, at the Academy's Cadet Ice Arena. With the win, Air Force improved to 16-7-7 overall and 14-4-6 in the league. AFA is in sole possession of first place with 34 points, two points ahead of Niagara and RIT and four points ahead of Mercyhurst (16-13-4, 13-7-4 in the AHA). AFA extended its unbeaten streak to nine games (6-0-3), the longest since a 13-game winning streak to start the 2008-09 season and the second-longest active streak in the nation.
Air Force scored two first-period goals and took a 2-0 lead into the first intermission. Midway through first period, John Kruse scored his 12th of the season for a 1-0 lead at the 10:03 mark. Kyle De Laurell, after being knocked down twice, won the puck off the back wall and fed Mike Walsh at the right point. Walsh's shot was saved, but Kruse collected the rebound, took it around the net and scored his fifth goal in the last 10 games. Later in the period, freshman defenseman Dan Weissenhofer scored his first career goal. Walsh drew a high-sticking penalty on Laker forward Chris Bodo and the Falcons capitalized. With less than 20 seconds left on the power play, Tony Thomas won a faceoff in the offensive zone back to Weissenhofer at the left point. His wrister through traffic beat Jordan Tibbett high, stick side.
Early in the second period, Air Force took a 3-0 lead on Stephen Carew's eighth of the season. A long outlet pass to Paul Weisgarber started the rush and Cole Gunner took a shot that was saved. Mercyhurst defenseman Nick Jones tried to clear the puck with his backhand, but lost control and Carew picked up the turnover in the slot. The middle of the period was keyed by the Falcon penalty kill. Mercyhurst had 1:18 of a 5-on-3 advantage. Falcon goalie Jason Torf went down to make a save and Ryan Misiak collected the rebound at the top of the crease and tried a backhander high. However, Torf reached high with the glove and made the save with one second left on the two-man advantage. After killing another penalty, the Falcons scored two late goals. Kruse and Chad Demers won the puck out of the corner. Kruse fed Demers at the bottom of the left circle and the freshman scored his seventh of the season. His wrister hit Tibbett low and the puck went up over his shoulder and into the net. Seventy-one seconds later, the Falcons scored again. Casey Kleisinger and Jason Fabian cycled the puck behind the net and found Tony Thomas in the left circle. His wrister beat Tibbett inside the far post for his third of the season. Air Force added three more in the third period. Kruse's second of the game, 13th of the season, came 48 seconds into the third period. De Laurell made a pass off the back wall to Demers at the bottom of the right circle. Demers made a no-look pass through the legs and Kruse's one-timer found the back of the net. Demers then scored his second of the night, eighth of the season, at the 3:45 mark as he cleaned up a rebound of De Laurell's shot. Carew closed out the scoring with his second of the night and ninth of the season. Carew created a turnover in the neutral zone and Paul Weisgarber took the puck down low. Weisgarber gave it back to Carew for an 8-0 lead with 3:27 left.
Air Force outshot Mercyhurst, 35-20, in the game. AFA was 1-for-3 on the power play while Mercyhurst was 0-for-4. Torf stopped all 20 shots he faced as he earned his fifth career shutout and his third in the last five games.
"The turning point of this game came in the second period when we killed a 5-on-3," head coach Frank Serratore said. "If they would have scored, this would have been a different game. They were still fighting and battling at that point and that was a kill we needed. After that, it snowballed. Everything we shot, went in. Everything they shot, either Torf saved it or it hit the post. They hit four posts. It was a Murphy's Law game for them. Expect a barn-burner tomorrow night. They are a good team. This one is in the rear-view mirror. We need to play for the next one. We just need to come back and get the job done tomorrow night and that will be a tough task."
Air Force and Mercyhurst conclude the two-game league series Saturday, Feb. 18, at the Cadet Ice Arena.