NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. – Freshman Walker Sommer’s first career goal was the game-winner in a 4-2 win over Niagara in an Atlantic Hockey Conference game Friday, Jan. 26, at Dwyer Arena in Niagara Falls, N.Y.
After a scoreless first period, the Falcons (12-11-3 overall and 7-9-2 AHC) scored twice in the second. Evan Giesler broke the scoreless tie at 4:08 on a breakaway. Just after a Falcon penalty expired, Giesler came off the Air Force bench and collected an errant Niagara pass in the neutral zone. Giesler netted his seventh of the season unassisted. Later in the period, the Falcons took a 2-0 lead on the fore-check. Sommer collected the puck behind the net and fed Ben Kucera in the slot. Kucera’s shot bounced hard off the back boards, but Brady Tomlak tucked in the rebound at 12:55.
Midway through the third period, Niagara cut into the Falcon lead. Sean King put in a rebound of Tyler Hayes shot to make the score 2-1 at 8:52. Air Force answered just a couple minutes later on the power play. Niagara tried to clear a puck from its own end, but Sommer was there to intercept the pass and net his first career goal from the slot at 11:49. After Air Force killed the first seven Niagara power plays in the game, the Purple Eagles capitalized on their eighth. Billy Christopoulos saved a shot by Eric Cooley, but Noah Delmas put back the rebound at 12:29 to cut the Falcon lead to 3-2. With 2:24 left, Niagara pulled its goalie in favor of the extra skater. Kyle Haak forced a turnover in the neutral zone and skated toward the empty net. Just as he was pulled down from behind, he slid the puck into the empty net to seal the 4-2 win.
Niagara (11-14-2, 10-9-2 AHC) outshot Air Force, 28-23, in the game and had an 11-5 advantage in the third period. NU was 1-for-9 on the power play while AF was 1-for-4. Christopoulos made 26 saves for the Falcons while Brian Wilson made 19 for the Purple Eagles.
“We had to overcome some self-inflicted adversity tonight,” head coach Frank Serratore said. “They manhandled us in our series at the Academy in December, but we found a way tonight. This was far from picture perfect as we had to overcome ourselves at times. It’s nice when you can find a way to win a game against a good team on the road.”
The same two teams conclude the two-game series on Saturday, Jan. 27, in Niagara Falls, N.Y.