Falcons blank AIC, 2-0
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- Sophomore Peter Foster recorded his nation's best fifth shutout of the season to lead Air Force to a 2-0 win over American International in a non-conference college hockey game Saturday, Dec. 11, at the Olympia Ice Center in Springfield, Mass.
The Falcons swept the two-game series and improved to 9-5-2 overall. AIC fell to 1-9-1. Air Force has now won seven of its last eight games. The series sweep set a new school record with road sweeps this season. The Falcons are now 7-1-2 on the road this season. The seven road wins ties as the second most in school history.
Foster's fifth shutout of the season ties the school record set by Marc Kielkucki in 1998-99. He now has six for his career.
"We played a pretty complete game," head coach Frank Serratore said. "The only frustration we had was that we didn't put the puck in the net more. This was a sound 2-0 beating. The outcome was never in doubt, but AIC stayed close enough that we could not get comfortable."
Air Force opened the scoring at 14:51 of the first period. Andrew Ramsey won the faceoff and Brandon Merkosky's one-timer from the slot beat Frank Novello top shelf, stick side. AFA out-shot AIC, 17-2, in the first period. Merkosky's goal was the eventual game-winner, his first career game-winning goal.
In the second period, Brian Gineo's fifth goal of the season gave the Falcons a two-goal lead at the 8:11 mark. On the power play, the Falcons created a flurry in front of the net and Gineo scored from Matt Charbonneau and Eric Ehn.
The Falcons out-shot AIC, 15-6, in the third period but neither team scored. AIC pulled its goaltender with 36 seconds remaining and had just one shot on net.
Air Force out-shot AIC in two of the three periods and held a 40-17 advantage in the game. The Falcons were 1-for-8 on the power play while AIC was 0-for-6. Foster made 17 saves for the Falcons. Novello made 38 for AIC, including 15 in the third period.
"We had a great run in the first half of the season," Serratore said. "We have had to overcome a lot of adversity with injuries and suspensions and we have a very young team. We had a lot to overcome this weekend with both of goalies getting hurt and then we played with (senior defenseman) Steve Mead who was injured (finger) on Friday. Overcoming all that is what made this so rewarding. The wins have not come easy. The difficulty of our schedule increases greatly in the second half of the season."
The Falcons are now idle until Jan. 1 at the Denver Cup. Air Force plays the defending national champion Denver Pioneers, Saturday, Jan. 1, at 7:05 p.m. in the first round. AFA is face either Colgate or Northeastern Sunday, Jan. 2, in the consolation/championship game.