Air Force falls to Mercyhurst, 2-1

Feb. 18, 2012

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U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. - Mercyhurst goaltender Max Strang made 50 saves to lead the Lakers to a 2-1 win over Air Force in an Atlantic Hockey Association game Saturday, Feb. 18, at the Academy's Cadet Ice Arena. Air Force (16-8-7 overall and 14-5-6 in the AHA) remains in first place in the league with 34 points, just one point ahead of RIT and two points ahead of Niagara, Bentley and Mercyhurst. The Lakers improved to 17-13-4 overall and 14-7-4 and tied for third place in the AHA.

Air Force dominated the first 15 minutes of the first period and took a 1-0 lead. Dan Weissenhofer and Tim Kirby set up the break out behind their own end. Kirby's long outlet pass was collected in the neutral zone by freshman Cole Gunner. Gunner beat one Laker at the blue line and then split two defensemen in the zone. His wrister went off the glove of goaltender Max Stang and into the net for his fifth of the season and his first since Dec. 2. The Falcons had a 14-2 shot advantage in the first 15 minutes. However, in the final five minutes, Mercyhurst outshot Air Force, 6-3.

Mercyhurst tied the game with a power-play goal midway through the second period. Nick Jones scored his ninth of the season at the 11:11 mark with a slap shot from the slot after Daniel Bahntge's shot was blocked in front. Midway through the third period, a bouncing puck through the neutral zone was picked up by Paul Chaisson on the left wing. He skated in uncontested and zipped a wrister over the shoulder of Jason Torf for the unassisted game-winner at 6:25. Air Force outshot Mercyhurst, 51-19, in the game. AFA was 0-for-5 on the power play while Mercyhurst was 1-for-1. Strang made 50 saves for the Lakers while Torf made 17 for the Falcons.

"Our effort could not have been better," head coach Frank Serratore said. "Our guys worked extremely hard. Last night, everything went our way and tonight it didn't. This is playoff hockey. It comes down to special teams and goaltending. We didn't capitalize on our chances. Our guy, Jason Torf, I had no problem with the way he played. But their goalie was the best player on the ice by a country mile. They had just one power play and they scored. Give them credit. But we didn't get it done. It is as simple as that. But I can't fault the effort."

Air Force concludes the regular season next weekend with a two-game league series at Robert Morris, Friday-Saturday, Feb. 24-25, in Pittsburg, Pa. --30--



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