BEMIDJI, Minn. –Junior Matt Serratore had a goal and an assist and Billy Christopoulos made 29 saves as No. 20 Air Force defeated Bemidji State, 5-1, in a non-conference college hockey game Saturday, Oct. 21, at the Sanford Center in Bemidji, Minn.
The Falcons (4-1-1 overall) took a 2-0 lead in the first period on goals from Jordan Himley and Matt Serratore. Midway through the period, Serratore won a race to a puck on the boards and fed Himley in the slot. The junior from Mundelein, Ill, gave the Falcons a 1-0 lead at 7:24. Late in the period, Brady Tomlak skated the puck down the right wing. Tomlak’s centering pass was tipped in by Serratore, who was crashing the net, for a 2-0 lead with 21.7 seconds left in the first. Air Force, who had just 19 shots on goal on Friday, outshot the Beavers, 13-5, in the first period.
Early in the second period, the Beavers (2-1-1 overall) took the game to the Falcons and drew a penalty that led to a power-play goal. Just 3:18 into the second period, Zach Whitecloud’s pass was tipped in on the back door by Jay Dickman to cut the Falcons’ lead to 2-1. Air Force re-grouped to score the next two. Phil Boje’s slap shot led to a flurry in front of the net. Tyler Ledford was digging in front and tucked the puck inside the post at 11:05. After a video review, the goal was awarded as Evan Giesler and Boje assisted on the play. About four minutes later, the Falcons struck again. Matt Koch’s shot from the right point snuck through a screen by Ben Kucera for a 4-1 lead at 15:33. Kucera and Trevor Stone assisted on Koch’s third of the season. After the goal, Bemidji pulled its goalie Michael Bitzer, an All-American and WCHA player of the year last season. Then , in the final two minutes of the period, the Falcons had to kill 31 seconds of a 5-on-3 and the remainder of the 5-on-4 and did so while allowing just two shots on goal.
Christopoulos made 13 saves in the third period as the Falcons hung on to the three-goal lead. Late in the period, the Beavers pulled the goalie and Himley scored an empty-netter from deep in his own end with 39 seconds left in the game.
Bemidji State outshot Air Force, 30-26, with most of those coming in the third period when the Falcons were protecting the lead. Air Force was 0-for-3 on the power play while BSU was 0-for-4.
Air Force opens Atlantic Hockey play next week with a two-game road series at Canisius, Friday-Saturday, Oct. 27-28, in Buffalo, N.Y.