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BRIDGEPORT, Conn. – Junior Evan Giesler scored two goals as Air Force came from behind for a 5-3 win over Sacred Heart in an Atlantic Hockey Conference game Sunday, Nov. 26, at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Conn. Air Force took three points in the series and improved to 7-6-3 overall, 3-5-2 in the league. Sacred Heart fell to 3-9-2 overall and 1-6-2 in the AHC.
Sacred Heart drew first blood midway through the opening period. Mike Crocock had the puck down low and found Austin McIImurray skating down the slot with speed. McIlmurray netted his third of the season at 9:26. Air Force held an 11-5 shot advantage through the first 14 minutes, but the Pioneers outshot Air Force, 7-0, in the final six minutes.
Early in the second period, Sacred Heart took a 2-0 lead when Ruslan Rakhmatov’s shot was re-directed by Matt Tugnett at 1:58. The Falcons tied the game with two goals in a span of 39 seconds. Killing a penalty, Jordan Himley created a turnover at the blue line, passed the puck off the boards to himself and started down the right wing on a 2-on-1. Himley set up Jonathan Kopacka, who scored his second of the weekend at 4:15. Just 39 seconds later, the Falcons tied the game. Still killing a penalty, Matt Serratore forced a turnover and poked the puck to the neutral zone. Kyle Mackey came out of the penalty box and the Falcons had a 2-on-0 breakaway. Mackey fed Serratore to tie the game at 4:56. Less than four minutes later, the Falcons took the lead. After Ben Kucera drew a penalty, the Falcons scored on the power play. Matt Koch’s shot from the point was re-directed by Evan Giesler at 9:32 for a 3-2 lead.
Giesler’s second of the game put the Falcons up 4-2 early in the third period. Koch skated the puck down the left wing and sent a pass from the goal line through the crease. Giesler tapped it in on the back door, 43 seconds into the period. Midway through the third period, the Falcons took a 5-2 lead on Erich Jaeger’s second of the series. The Falcons won a faceoff in the offensive end and Zach Mirageas’ shot was saved, but Jaeger put back the rebound at 11:45. Just 34 seconds later, SHU answered as Vito Bavaro put back a rebound of Zach Tsekos’ shot to make the score 5-3.
Air Force outshot SHU, 31-27, in the game. Air Force was 1-for-6 on the power play while SHU was 0-for-4. Billy Christopoulos made 24 saves while Nathan Perry made 26.
“They were on us pretty good in the first period, but then we turned it around,” head coach Frank Serratore said. “It was great for us to rebound and get three points. We had to overcome some adversity getting down two goals on the road. That is hard to do. What an admirable job our young guys did this weekend.”
Air Force returns home for a two-game conference series against Niagara, Friday-Saturday, Dec. 1-2, at the Academy’s Cadet Field House.