U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. - Senior Erik Baskin's first career hat trick and 25 saves from Billy Christopoulos led Air Force to a 6-3 win over Colorado College in a non-conference college hockey game Friday, Dec. 29, at a sold out Cadet Ice Arena. With the win, the Falcons won the Pikes Peak Trophy, and have held the trophy every year since its inception in 2013.
Air Force (8-8-3 overall) scored three goals in the first five minutes of the game, including one on the first shift. Twenty-eight seconds into the game, Matt Koch fired a puck off the wall and Tyler Ledford fed Baskin on the back door for an early 1-0 lead. Less than two minutes later, senior Kyle Mackey netted his second of the season on a rebound of Ben Kucera's shot. The Falcons took a 3-0 lead at 4:44 when Jordan Himley scored on the power play. On a 2-on-1 rush, Ledford fed Himley in the slot for his sixth of the season. After the goal, Tiger goalie Alex Leclerc was pulled from the net after allowing three goals on three shots. Freshman Alec Calvaruso made just his second collegiate appearance in relief. Late in the period, Colorado College (8-8-3 overall) got on the board as Nick Halloran scored his 10th of the season at 14:57.
Ledford gave the Falcons a 4-1 lead just 13 seconds into the second period. After the Tigers won the center ice faceoff, Ledford picked up a loose puck inside the blue line and scored on a breakaway. Midway through the second period, the Tigers scored two goals in a span of three minutes. On the rush, Trey Bradley scored from Mason Bergh and Halloran with a wrister in the slot at 7:37. Then, just after a 5-on-3 advantage for the Tigers turned to a 5-on-4, Bergh scored his team-leading 11th of the season with a shot in the slot. The Falcons answered at 13:21 as Baskin scored from Ledford and Phil Boje. Boje's pass from the right point found Ledford on the goal line on the left wing side. Ledford's centering pass was tipped in by Baskin at the top of the crease.
The Falcons held on to the 5-3 lead until late in the third when Baskin completed his first career hat trick. Boje made a long outlet pass to Ledford in the neutral zone. Ledford's shot was saved, but not covered up, and Baskin punched in the rebound at 13:53.
Colorado College outshot Air Force, 28-25. The Falcons were 2-for5 on the power play while Colorado College was 1-for-7.
"I am so proud of our guys," head coach Frank Serratore said. "This was a big game for us. The game was a little helter skelter early. The difference was their goalie struggled and Billy was pretty solid for us. They had chances in this game and so did we, but Billy was there for us tonight. And then in the third period, I thought we did a good job of closing the game out."
Air Force travels north on I-25 to meet the defending national champion, and second ranked, Denver Pioneers, Saturday, Dec. 30, at 7:05 pm MT at Magness Arena.