COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Freshman Anthony Masotto’s third-period goal Sunday gave Air Force its first lead of the game and sent the Falcons over Calgary 4-2 in an exhibition game.
“It’s something you think about all the time,” Masotto said. “To come out and have fun and score the game-winner in my first game was just great.”
At 8:09 of the third period, center Spanky Leonard won a face-off in the Calgary zone and sent the puck over to Masotto, who sent his slap shot top shelf to snag his first goal as a Falcon and put the Air Force up 3-2.
The Falcons got a scare early in the game when Calgary’s man-advantage from Phil Cohen’s obstruction-holding penalty turned into a two-man advantage off a slashing penalty assessed to Ryan Smith. For 1:15, the Air Force defense held strong, and the Falcons killed off both penalties. The teams headed to the locker room at the end of the period scoreless.
The Dinosaurs got their break early in the second period. Two seconds after Air Force killed off a two-minute holding penalty, Calgary center Colin Embley capitalized off rebounded shots by Mike Muzechka and Scott Fumaki to find the back of the net and put the Dinosaurs on the board.
At 8:04, Calgary widened the gap when Trevor Segstro fired the puck five-hole to beat Air Force goaltender Marc Kielkucki. Judd Casper and Brock Hodgson assisted on the goal to put Calgary up 2-0.
The Dinosaurs changed up the defense halfway through the second, substituting goalie Tyler Nilsson for Scott Rideout at 11:53. The change gave the Falcons the break they needed, as four seconds later Air Force winger Brian Rodgers, off assists from Andy Berg and Scott Zwiers, shot glove-high past Nilsson to give the Falcons their first goal of the night.
The Falcons’ momentum continued. At 13:20, Shane Saum passed the puck to Brian Gornick, who fired it past Nilsson to tie the game at 2.
After Masotto’s go-ahead goal, Calgary pulled Nilsson in hopes of tying the game with a sixth skater with just over two minutes left. Instead, Falcon forward Billy O’Reilly notched an empty-netter to seal the game.
“Every game is big, and the kids want to win them all,” Air Force coach Frank Serratore said. “But a come-from-behind victory is really special, and it’s a great note for us to start out on.”
Calgary coach Tim Bothwell said he felt his team “just didn’t compete hard enough.”
“Air Force worked hard, skated hard, pressured us well,” he said. “We made some poor decisions in the zone, had lots of turnovers in our own zone. That is indicative of not being ready to play the game.”
As far as getting ready for their next game, the Falcons know their work is far from over.
“There are a lot of things that need to be improved upon that you don’t see until you play,” said Serratore. “A game like this helps us see what we need to work on next week.”