Falcons blank Robert Morris, 5-0
MOON TOWNSHIP, Penn. -- Sophomore Peter Foster, the national leader in shutouts, blanked his third opponent of the season as Air Force beat Robert Morris University, 5-0, in a College Hockey America game Friday night at the Island Sports Complex in Moon Township, Pa.
Air Force won its first CHA game of the season and collected its biggest victory since a 6-1 win over Bentley in 2001. The Falcons improve to 3-4-2 overall this season and 1-2 in the CHA. Robert Morris fell to 2-7-1 overall and 0-4-1 in the CHA.
The Falcons scored two in the first period and rolled to their biggest conference win since an 8-1 win over Findlay in 1999. Foster's third shutout of the season was also the fourth of his career. Marc Kielkucki (1998-01) holds the school records in both categories with five in a season and 10 for his career.
Air Force opened the scoring at 10:07 of the first period when Andrew Ramsey carried the puck into the RMU zone on the right boards. He played the puck ahead to Brandon Merkosky who carried it behind the net and found Josh Print streaking down the slot for the power play goal. The Falcons added to the lead in just 3:52 later as Merkosky and Print worked a give-and-go the length of the ice that ended with Merkosky tipping the puck over freshman Christian Boucher's shoulder.
Matt Charbonneau chimed in on the scoring for Air Force in the second period with a goal on assists from Merkosky and Ramsey at the 4:00 mark. Ten minutes later, the Falcons added a goal in a 4-on-4 situation when Merkosky fed Ramsey from the right side of the net on a 2-on-1 break.
The Falcons capped the scoring with just 21 seconds showing on the clock with a power-play score by Billy Devoney. Devoney's wrist shot from the blue line went through a crowd and tipped off a RMU defender through back-up goalie Jamie Flury's pads.
"We are a pretty tough team when we don't give up any goals," head coach Frank Serratore said as all three of the Falcons' win this season have been by shutout. "The game was closer than the final score indicated. We dominated the first period. They controlled the second period, but we scored two goals. It was nice to get the monkey off our back. After we gave up the lead at Holy Cross and tied, we had lost three straight. It was also nice to score some goals. We have struggled scoring this season, and we got five tonight. Peter Foster was great and stopped a couple very good chances by them. The win was bittersweet, however, as Mike Knaeble left the game with an injury. He is a big part of our team and we will miss him."
Knaeble, a junior forward from Eden Prairie, Minn., left the game with an injured lower leg. He will be out for Saturday's game at Robert Morris.
Foster finished the game with a career-high 35 saves for the shutout while Boucher made 26 saves in two periods and Flury stopped 17 in the third period. Foster's previous best was a 34-save performance in a loss to Alabama-Huntsville last season. The Colonials failed to score on nine power play chances despite taking 15 shots with the man advantage.
The Falcons' special teams dominated the game. Air Force was 2-for-4 on the power play and also scored a 4-on-4 goal. The penalty kill stifled all nine RMU chances. AFA outshot RMU, 43-35, in the game. Merkosky had one goal and three assists while Ramsey had one goal and two assists. The Falcons top line of Print, Merkosky and Ramsey was on the ice for four of the five goals and combined for three goals and six assists.
"Air Force played very hard tonight," said RMU head coach Derek Schooley, who spent five seasons at Air Force under Serratore. "We played better in the second and third period, but dug ourselves too deep of a hole. The difference was their determination in the first period. They came out like they were shot out of a cannon, and we were the clown in front getting shot in the gut. We couldn't contain that line or Print, Merkosky and Ramsey. We'll be ready to go tomorrow, but we need to be ready to play right out of the gate. We have only scored first in two of our nine games this season. We need to get a lead and see what we can do with it."
These two teams meet again on Saturday, November 20, at the RMU Island Sports Center with face-off scheduled for 7:35 p.m.