COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — For the second night in a row, Air Force and Niagara played an overtime, but on Saturday, no one could scored the winner as the game ended in a 2-2 tie.
On Friday, Niagara won 3-2 in overtime, but Air Force coach Frank Serratore said his team had a better performance on Saturday.
“I feel like we played a better game tonight,” Serratore said. “We made some changes tactically that really helped us, and we played with great urgency when we were down.”
“We tried to come out with a lot of jump, a lot of intensity,” said Falcon goaltender Marc Kielkucki, who made 48 saves over the weekend. “We worked hard and it would have been nice to come away with the ‘W.’ I thought we played well enough to deserve it.”
“I have to give Air Force credit,” said Niagara head coach Blaise MacDonald. “I thought we lacked the killer instinct early in the game, and they play well with and without the puck.
“We made great strides as a team this weekend, though. These games showed us areas we can be proud of and also showed us areas we need to work on.”
Niagara, running off its momentum from the OT victory, was quick out of the blocks.
The Purple Eagles got the scoring started early. Less than five minutes had elapsed in the first period before freshman forward Nick Kormanyos picked up his first collegiate point by beating Air Force goaltender Marc Kielkucki with a high shot to the back of the net. Sophomore Randy Harris and freshman Chris Welch assisted on the goal to give the Purple Eagles the 1-0 lead.
Air Force battled for nearly the entire period before it was able to retaliate. With a man advantage due to a Niagara tripping penalty, freshman Spanky Leonard and senior Scott Bradley set up junior Derek Olson for a shot. At 18:21, Olson fired the puck past Niagara goalie Rob Bonk to light the lamp for the Falcons. The teams retired to the locker rooms with the scored tied at 1.
The second period was dominated by special teams play as both teams spent significant time in the penalty box. Air Force served four minor penalties while Niagara served three.
At 17:29, with both teams finally at full strength, it was the Purple Eagles who broke the tie. Junior defenseman Scott Crawford, off rebound shots from Paul Muniz and John Heffernan, flipped the puck past Kielkucki for Niagara’s second goal of the evening. The period ended with Niagara once again in control, 2-1.
The Falcons were quick to retaliate in the third period. At 5:18, sophomore Kyle Fransdal wrapped around the back of the net and snapped the puck past Bonk to tie the game at 2. Defenseman Brian Reaney and center Derek Olson picked up points on the assists.
The teams battled evenly throughout the rest of the third as the goaltenders each posted five saves for the period. For the second time in a row, the Fighting Falcons and the Purple Eagles were forced into overtime.
The best efforts of both teams proved fruitless, though, as the game remained tied at the end of an intense overtime.
“These were two well-played, exciting games,” said Serratore. “In this conference, the speed limit is high, and I commend our kids for playing hard all weekend.
“But we gave away three points out of four at home, and that stings. We’ll have to make up those points on the road.”
“At the end of the day, taking three out of four points on the road is pretty good,” said MacDonald.