Air Force falls to RIT, 6-4
Feb. 27, 2009
ROCHESTER, N.Y. - RIT clinched at least a share of the Atlantic Hockey Association regular season championship as the Tigers defeated Air Force, 6-4, in an Atlantic Hockey Association game, Friday, Feb. 27, at the Frank Ritter Arena in Rochester, N.Y.
RIT improved to 21-10-2 overall and 20-5-2 in the AHA. Air Force fell to 22-9-2 overall and 19-6-2 in the league. RIT will clinch the league championship with a win or tie on Saturday. Air Force could gather a share of the championship with a win on Saturday. Air Force and RIT conclude the series and regular-season on Saturday, Feb. 28, at 7:05 p.m. ET in Rochester, N.Y.
Air Force drew first blood as freshman Paul Weisgarber scored is fifth of the season. Sean Bertsch won a faceoff in the offensive zone and Greg Flynn funneled the puck to the net. The shot was saved by Jared DeMichiel, but Weisgarber put back the rebound at 14:32. Less than two minutes, later, RIT tied the game with a power-play goal by Matt Crowell. Jesse Newman made a centering pass from the right boards and Crowell scored from the slot to tie the game at 16:22. Each team had 12 shots in the first period.
In a wild second period, the sold out crowd saw seven goals scored in 20 minutes. RIT broke the 1-1 tie with three straight goals, one short-handed, one power play and one 4-on-4. Anton Kharin scored at 2:30 for a 2-1 lead with a short-handed goal. Air Force turned the puck over at its own blue line and Kharin scored his first of the game. Ninety seconds later, RIT scored again as Tyler Brenner scored a power-play goal from the left side with a wrister. Kharin's second of the game gave RIT a 4-1 lead at 7:25 in a 4-on-4 situation. Kharin's point shot beat Volkening on the short side. The Falcons responded with the next three goals of the game. Jacques Lamoureux scored on the power play at 8:17 from Brent Olson and Flynn. Flynn's point shot was saved, but Lamoureux put back the rebound from a tough angle on the right goal line. AFA cut the RIT lead to 4-3 after Jeff Hajner won a faceoff in the offensive zone. Flynn's point shot was saved, but Matt Fairchild put in the rebound for his 14th of the season. With 1:04 left in the period, Lamoureux scored his second power play goal of the game. Tim Kirby's point shot was saved and Lamoureux netted his nation-leading 28th goal of the season to tie the game at 4-4. With 3.5 seconds left, Andrew Favot scored a four-on-four goal. The Tigers were buzzing around the Falcon net and Favot collected the puck, slid it around Volkening and just inside the far post for a 5-4 lead after two periods.
RIT scored the only goal of the third period and it came after an Air Force turnover in its own end. Cameron Burt stepped in front of a Falcon pass from behind its own net and fed Brennan Sarazin in the slot. Sarazin scored his 17th of the season for a 6-4 advantage at the 9:26 mark.
"I never would have dreamed there would be 10 goals in a game with these two teams this late in the season," head coach Frank Serratore said. "These two teams play and go for it. These two teams don't play boring, trapping hockey. They are a very opportunistic team and are playing with a lot of confidence. I was proud of our guys for the character they showed in coming back after getting down 4-1. It always comes down to special teams and goaltending. Neither goalie had their best night. We got out special-teamed, out goaltended and we gave up a goal in the final minute of the period. You just can't do that. That goal invigorated them. There were a lot of guys down after the game, but we don't have time to feel sorry for ourselves. We have to get ready to play tomorrow. We have to play just as hard and a little smarter tomorrow night. Our backs are against the wall and we'll see how we respond on Saturday. Justice will be served. If RIT wins they will have beaten us three out of four times and will deserve to be champions. If we win, we will have split the four games and each team will deserve to get a share of the championship. Despite the outcome tonight, I like the position we are in. A lot of teams in college hockey will be playing meaningless games on Saturday and we are not one of them."
RIT outshot Air Force, 40-33, in the game. Air Force was 2-for-8 on the power play. RIT was 2-for-4 and also scored a short-handed goal and netted two 4-on-4 goals. Volkening made a season-high 34 saves for the Falcons. DeMichiel made 29 saves for RIT.