March 17, 2012
ROCHESTER, N.Y. - Jason Torf stopped all 34 shots he faced as Air Force blanked RIT, 4-0, in the championship game of the Atlantic Hockey Association Tournament Saturday, March 16, at the Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, N.Y. With the victory, Air Force earns an automatic berth to the NCAA Regionals next weekend, March 23-24. Air Force will find out its opponent and regional site on Sunday, at Noon ET, during the Selection Show on ESPNU.
Air Force won the AHA Championship for the fifth time in six seasons, including back-to-back titles. Torf earned his second straight shutout over RIT in the championship game. RIT has not scored on Air Force in nine straight periods in the AHA Playoffs. The Falcons are now 21-3 all-time in AHA Playoffs and 10-1 all-time at the Blue Cross Arena.
With a scoreless tie late into the first period, the Falcons jumped ahead with two goals in a span of 70 seconds. On the power play, Tim Kirby fired a shot from the point that bounced off the back wall. Paul Weisgarber pushed it back to Cole Gunner who walked out from behind the net and beat Shane Madolora through the five hole for a 1-0 lead at 15:15. Goal number two came off the rush as Adam McKenzie found Chad Demers in the neutral zone. Demers drew the defenders and fed John Kruse on the weak side who was all alone. Kruse skated in and scored for a 2-0 lead at 16:25.
In the second period, Air Force took the first two shots and then RIT fired the next seven at Jason Torf who kept the nets clean. The Tigers controlled play for the first eight minutes of the period. As the mid-point of the period approached, Casey Kleisinger chased a puck down in the RIT zone and beat a Tiger to the puck. Tony Thomas came out from behind the net and his shot was saved. Jason Fabian put back the rebound for his second of the weekend and eighth of the season at the 9:23 mark. The Tigers controlled play in the final seven minutes as Torf made seven more saves.
Early in the third period, RIT's Adam Mitchell was called for a five-minute boarding penalty, but the Falcons did not score on the man-advantage. RIT pulled its goalie with 1:59 remaining, but Fabian's second of the game sealed the win as he scored an empty-netter with seven seconds left. \ RIT outshot Air Force, 34-27, in the game. AFA was 1-for-2 on the power play while RIT was 0-for-1. Madolora made 23 saves for the Tigers.
Five Falcons made the all-tournament team led by tournament MVP Jason Torf. Paul Weisgarber and Cole Gunner were selected at forward. Scott Mathis and Tim Kirby were the defensemen. RIT's Taylor McReynolds was also on the team.
"This is a great credit to our kids," head coach Frank Serratore said. "I couldn't be more proud of them. In order to be a champion, you have to be able to come from behind and you have to be able win on the road and this team has done that. You also have to have the ability to win close games. It all starts with our defense. We defended very well. This senior class has played in five championship games and won all five. You have to be good and you have to be a little lucky too and we have been both."