Air Force holds off Mercyhurst for 6-5 win
Feb. 19, 2011
ERIE, Pa. - Air Force never trailed in the game and then held off Mercyhurst for a 6-5 win in an Atlantic Hockey Association game Saturday, Feb. 19, at the Mercyhurst Ice Center in Erie, Pa. Air Force swept the two-game series and won the season series from the Lakers. AFA improved to 14-11-6 overall and 12-7-6 in the league. Mercyhurst fell to 13-15-4 overall and 11-12-2 in the AHA. With the two points, Air Force moved into third place and clinched home ice in the first round of the playoffs.
Air Force jumped out to a 2-0 lead midway through the first period with two goals in a span of 97 seconds. Senior Jacques Lamoureux opened the scoring at the 8:51 mark from linemates Derrick Burnett and Kyle DeLaurell. Lamoureux cleaned up the rebound for his 16th of the season. The goal was also the 57th of his career in AHA games, setting a new league record. Lamoureux broke the record of 56 set by Army's Owen Meyer (2006-10). Lamoureux set the record in just three seasons as he sat out his freshman year due to a transfer from Northern Michigan.
The Falcons took a 2-0 lead at 10:28 when freshman Jason Fabian scored his second of the weekend and ninth of the season. Tony Thomas knocked a puck down at the blue line and John Kruse made a great move down the right side. Kruse found Fabian in the right circle who made a move on goaltender Ryan Zapolski and scored. Mercyhurst got on the board at 17:58 when Paul Chiasson scored on the rush with a wrister from the hash marks. The Falcons quickly answered when freshman Casey Kleisinger netted his fourth of the season. On the rush, linemates, Paul Weisgarber and George Michalke assisted on the play.
The teams combined for four goals in the second period as Mercyhurst scored in the first two minutes. Randy Cure cut the Falcon lead to 3-2 with a shot from the point through traffic. Air Force quickly answered as Fabian scored his second of the night and third of the series at the 4:43 mark. On the power play, Stephen Carew took a shot from the point and Fabian redirected it for a 4-2 lead. Kruse picked up his second assist of the game. Four minutes later, the Falcons took a 5-2 lead as Kyle DeLaurell scored his ninth of the season. Derrick Burnett skated the puck behind the net and then fed DeLaurell on the backdoor at 8:42. Lamoureux also picked up a helper on the play. The Lakers answered late in the period as Mike Gurtler put back a rebound to make the score 5-3 with 3:36 left in the second.
Freshman George Michalke gave Air Force a 6-3 lead at 7:34 of the third period. Michalke scored the eventual game-winner with a wrister from the right circle that beat Zapolski high glove side. Mercyhurst made the game very interesting late in the third. Chiasson made a centering pass from the corner and Scott Pitt banged it in at 13:55 to cut the Falcon lead to 6-4. Mercyhurst went on its second power play of the period and the Falcons nearly killed it before Daniel O'Donoghue scored with 3:01 remaining. With seven seconds left on the Laker power play, O'Donoghue took a pass from Gurtler in tight and scored his ninth of the season. Mercyhurst pulled its goaltender in the final 23 seconds put was unable to tie the game. Air Force outshot Mercyhurst, 37-32, in the game. AFA was 1-for-1 on the power play while Mercyhurst was 1-for-2. Torf made 27 saves for the Falcons while Zapolski made 31 for the Lakers.
"We had good balance throughout our lineup tonight," head coach Frank Serratore said. "They are a team of opportunists and the game is never safe against them. We played pretty well tonight. On the second night, so many times we have failed to get it done. Tonight we got it done and got the four points that we needed. Our destiny is somewhat in our own hands next weekend. We have a chance to earn a bye in the first round with two games against Robert Morris. Mercyhurst has good talent and we could very well see them again in the playoffs."
Air Force returns home for the final regular-season series on Friday-Saturday, Feb. 25-26, against Robert Morris. Faceoff is at 7:05 p.m. on Friday and 7:35 on Saturday at the Cadet Ice Arena.