Mercyhurst beats Air Force, 3-1
Dec. 12, 2009
USAFA, Colo . - Mercyhurst scored two goals in the third period to beat Air Force, 3-1, in an Atlantic Hockey Association game, Saturday night, Dec. 12, at the Academy's Cadet Ice Arena.
With the win, Mercyhurst moved into a tie for first place in the league with Air Force with 20 points. RIT is in third with 19. Mercyhurst improved to 9-9-2 overall and 9-5-2 in the AHA. Air Force fell to 8-6-4 overall and 8-2-4 in the league. Air Force's 10-game unbeaten streak came to an end. The Falcons are now 6-1-4 in the last 11. Mercyhurst extended their unbeaten streak to eight games, the second longest in the nation.
In a scoreless first period, Mercyhurst had a 15-1 shot advantage in the first 15 minutes. The Lakers had three power plays in the first 10 minutes. Eight minutes into the game, Falcon defenseman Scott Mathis saved a goal. With goaltender Andrew Volkening sprawled on the ice, the puck was sitting in the crease with Scott Cameron skating in for an easy goal. Mathis skated behind his goaltender and cleared the puck to keep the game scoreless. Late in the period, Air Force had 31 seconds of 5-on-3 and had three shots on goal, but the first period ended 0-0. Early in the second period, the Lakers had a 3-on-2 rush and Falcon defenseman Mike Walsh broke up a centering pass. However, as Walsh tried to push the puck to the boards, Brandon Coccimiglio intercepted it and his shot from the bottom of the left circle beat Volkening for a 1-0 lead. Mercyhurst again outshot Air Force in the period and had a 29-15 advantage through two periods.
Air Force came out in the third period and took the play to Mercyhurst, getting three shots on goal in the first 30 seconds. Ryan Zapolski made all the saves and then the Lakers capitalized. Air Force sent the puck around the boards and Scott Pitt chipped it out to Steve Cameron who skated down the left side, beat an Air Force defenseman and scored 54 seconds into the third period. The game remained 2-0 when Neil Graham knocked down an attempted Air Force clear and walked out of the left corner. As he came in, Volkening was on the other side of the net and could not get back in time as Graham gave the Lakers a 3-0 lead at 15:23.
The Falcons pulled their goaltender with 4:04 remaining and scored shortly after. Jeff Hajner fired a shot from the left circle that hit Jacques Lamoureux and went in at 16:16. Derrick Burnett assisted on the play that cut the Laker lead to 3-1. Air Force had several chances late in the game, but Zapolski was up to the task. With two seconds left and Mercyhurst leading 3-1, a scuffle broke out and the two teams combined for 15 penalties and 69 minutes.
Air Force outshot Mercyhurst, 37-35, in the game, but most of the shots came after Air Force pulled its goalie. Mercyhurst had a 29-15 shot advantage through two periods. AFA was 0-for-4 on the power play and killed all seven Laker man-advantages. Volkening made 32 saves in the game, including a season-high 17 in the first period. Zapolski made 36 for the Lakers.
"We just never seemed to get them on their heels," head coach Frank Serratore said. "It took us until we pulled the goalie, with four minutes left, to play with a sense of urgency. Zapolski was very good and I thought Volkening was good as well. They are a very opportunistic team and have a lot of guys with offensive savvy. Again, we gave them a couple good chances. We have to get better. It's not like we are long way away. We need to be a little better offensively and a little better defensively. Our character will be tested in the second half, but don't count us out."
Air Force is now off until a two-game AHA series at Sacred Heart, Jan. 2-3, 2010.