Falcons beat Canisius, 4-3; Clinch home ice in playoffs
Feb. 23, 2008
BUFFALO, N.Y. - Jeff Hajner scored two goals to lead Air Force to a 4-3 win over Canisius in an Atlantic Hockey Association game Saturday afternoon, Feb. 23, at the Buffalo State Sports Arena in Buffalo, N.Y.
Air Force won its third straight game and improved to 16-11-5 overall and 13-9-4 in the AHA. Canisius fell to 10-18-5 overall and 9-13-4 in the league. With the win, the Falcons clinched home ice in the first round of the playoffs and will host a quarterfinal series, March 7-9, at the Cadet Ice Arena. The Falcons opponent is yet to be determined.
Air Force lit the lamp first when freshman Blake Page scored on a flurry in front of the Canisius net. The goal came just after a Golden Griffin power-play ended. Brad Sellers took a shot from the point that started the scramble in front. Page netted his third of the season as Josh Print also assisted on the play at the 5:30 mark. Canisius' Greg Brown was called for a checking from behind major penalty when he took Sellers into the boards, giving Air Force a five-minute power play. The Falcons capitalized when Hajner scored his 12th of the season at 10:31. His wrister from the left circle beat Andrew Loewen high, glove side. Matt Fairchild and Derrick Burnett also assisted on the play. The Griffs answered when Cory Conacher scored on the power play at the 12:37 mark with a goal from the weakside post. AFA regained the two-goal advantage when Frank Schiavone scored with two minutes remaining in the period. His shot from the left point was assisted by Matt Charbonneau and Page.
Neither team scored in the second period, but Canisius made the game interesting in the third period.
Early in the third period, Hajner gave the Falcons a 4-1 lead with a goal at the 6:29 mark. Michael Mayra transitioned the puck at his own blueline that led a rush up ice. Burnett and Fairchild carried the puck into the zone. Hajner trailed the play and scored his second of the game and 13th of the season. Canisius quickly answered just one minute later. Spencer Churchill scored from Chris Forsman at the 7:17 mark to make the score 4-2.
With just under a minute left in the third period, the Golden Griffins pulled the goaltender in favor of the extra skater. Then with 38 seconds left, a penalty was called on Matt Charbonneau, giving the Griffs a two-man advantage. With eight seconds remaining, Conacher scored his second power-play goal of the game to cut the Air Force lead to 4-3. The Falcons won the faceoff at center ice and the final gun sounded, giving AFA a 4-3 victory.
"I thought we played very well and was pleased with our effort tonight," head coach Frank Serratore said. "They made it close at the end, but if we would have capitalized on a fraction of our opportunities, we could have put the game away much earlier. This time of year, it is just about getting points and we got four big ones this weekend."
Air Force outshot Canisius, 38-13, in the game. The Falcons were 1-for-6 on the power play while the Griffs were 2-for-6. Volkening made 11 saves for Air Force while Loewen made 34 for Canisius.
Air Force returns home for the final regular-season series, Friday-Saturday, Feb. 29-March 1, at the Cadet Ice Arena when the Falcons host the AIC Yellow Jackets. The series will be the final regular-season home games for seven seniors: Bryan Becker, Matt Charbonneau, Eric Ehn, Ian Harper, Josh Print, Josh Schaffer and Frank Schiavone