Late goal leads Wayne State to 3-2 win
Nate Higgins scored with two minutes remaining in the third period to lift Wayne State to a 3-2 win over Air Force in a College Hockey America game Saturday, Dec. 4, at the Cadet Ice Arena.
The two teams split the two-game league series. Air Force's five-game winning streak ended as the Falcons fell to 7-5-2 overall and 3-3 in the CHA. Wayne State improved to 9-6-1 overall and 3-2-1 in the conference.
Wayne State led for the just two minutes in the entire series, but came away with a series split. The Falcons never trailed in the 2-1 win on Friday. Air Force led 1-0 and then 2-1 in Saturday's game.
Air Force scored first as Ryan Wiggins scored on a rush up ice at the 14:00 mark of the first period. Brooks Turnquist made a long pass to Will Zimmerman at the blue line. Zimmerman skated down the left wing and his shot was saved by Will Hooper. Wiggins skated down the slot and put back the rebound just before the net was dislodged.
Midway through the second period, WSU tied the score at 1-1. Nate Higgins took control of a loose puck in the neutral zone and found Jason Bloomingburg coming through the slot. Bloomingburg beat Peter Foster at 7:20 of the second period. Air Force again took the lead at 17:47 of the second period on the power play. Josh Print tipped the puck from behind the net to Andrew Ramsey in corner. Ramsey fed Merkosky in the slot and the sophomore winger netted his fifth of the season.
As the horn sounded in the second period, Brooks Turnquist was called for a high-sticking penalty and the Warriors started the third period on a 4-on-3 power play. Fifty-four seconds into the period, the Warriors capitalized as Bloomingburg scored his second of the game to tie the score at 2-2. Stavros Paskaris and Steve Kovalchik passed the puck around the horn to Bloomingburg at the bottom of the right circle.
With exactly two minutes remaining in the third period, Mike Forgie took the puck to the net and his shot was saved by Foster. Higgins came in behind Forgie and back-handed the rebound over Foster's pad for a 3-2 lead. Air Force pulled Foster with 1:15 remaining the third, but Hooper made two saves with the extra attacker on the ice. With 16 seconds remaining, Warrior Dan Iliakis was called for a holding penalty behind the net and the Falcons had a 6-on-4 advantage. The Warriors cleared the puck out of the zone and clock ran out on the Falcons.
Air Force outshot Wayne State, 12-4 in the third period and had a 32-21 advantage in the game. The Falcons were 1-for-5 on the power play while the Warriors were 1-for-3. Hooper stopped 30 of the 32 shots he faced in the game. Foster made 18 saves for the Falcons.
"We were undisciplined and that cost us the game," head coach Frank Serratore said. "We retaliated twice late in the second period and that gave them a 4-on-3 for 1:45. That is a tough situation to kill. Then the next puck that goes in wins the game and they did it. These points that we gave up tonight are going to come back to haunt us. We self-destructed a little and Hooper was better in goal than Foster."
Air Force is on the road next week as the Falcons travel to the East Coast for a two-game non-conference series with American International, Friday-Saturday, Dec. 10-11, at 7:05 p.m. EST each night. Following the series, the Falcons will be idle until Jan. 1 at the Denver Cup.