Alabama-Huntsville Overwhelms Falcons, 5-3
Alabama-Huntsville scored four goals in a six-minute span in the second period and held on for a 5-3 win over Air Force in a College Hockey America game Saturday night (Jan. 20) at the Von Braun Center in Huntsville, Ala.
"Our approach was much better and our guys were ready to play," head coach Frank Serratore said. "We were overwhelmed by a better team. They have a great combination of talent and experience."
An inspired Air Force hockey team came out strong in the first period despite playing short-handed. Air Force was without wingers Kyle Fransdal and Brian Gornick who were injured in the first game of the series. Fransdal suffered a laceration on the elbow while Gornick has a fractured bone in his wrist. Brian Reaney played with a sprained ankle, Brian Rodgers got his bell rung after a hard check in the first game and Marc Kielkucki has a case of pink eye.
Despite the injuries, Air Force matched the intensity level of UAH and came out of the first period with a 1-0 lead as Rodgers tipped in a pass from Jace Anders. The valiant effort by the Falcons continued early in the second period as AFA took a 2-0 lead. Scott Zwiers scored his 12th goal of the season after Shane Saum made a hard-working play in the neutral zone.
However, the tide turned late in the second period. Air Force. seemed to go flat on both ends of the ice and weren't able to finish checks or get to loose pucks. UAH took advantage with four goals in the final six minutes of the second period. Dwayne Blais, the preseason player of the year in the CHA, buried a power-play goal that opened the flood gates. His goal set off a string of three goals in two minutes and four goals in six minutes as the Chargers skated with much more momentum and energy. Jessi Otis, Steve Charlebois and Joel Bresciani all scored goals in the second period.
UAH, 13-9-2 overall and 8-3-1 in the CHA, scored a goal early in the third as Charlebois scored his fourth goal of the weekend. Not surprisingly, the third period was marred with a flood of penalties as the Chargers are the most penalized team in the league and Air Force's frustration began to show. After the fifth goal, Marc Kielkucki was pulled from the net and freshman Mike Polidor got some quality ice time in a hostile environment. Polidor was tested early and often as the Chargers had a five-on-three and then skated on a five-minute power-play when AFA's Billy O'Reilly was whistled for checking from behind. Polidor made 13 saves in the final 13 minutes and did not allow a goal.
"This was a very disappointing weekend," Serratore said. "We have some guys hurt, but we wanted to walk away with some points from this series and we didn't. There is still a lot of hockey left but we have to get things going in the right direction."
Air Force, 12-10-2 overall and 4-5-2 in the CHA, scored a late goal as Justin Hamilton rushed up the ice with Shane Saum. Saum gave a great drop pass and Hamilton put away his third goal of the season.
Air Force is off until the Falcons host Wayne State, Feb. 2-3 at the Cadet Ice Arena.