HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Senior goaltender Marc Kielkucki made 40 saves as Air Force defeated Findlay, 2-1, in the play-in game at the College Hockey America tournament Thursday at the Von Braun Center.
Air Force, 16-15-4 overall, advances to the semifinals against regular-season champion Alabama-Huntsville Friday at 7:05 CST. Findlay finishes its season at 10-15-2 overall.
Despite being outshot 15-6 in the first period, Air Force took the first lead. Brian Rodgers opened the scoring for the Falcons at 12:58 from Andy Berg, whose pass from behind the net found Rodgers on the doorstep for his 11th goal of the season.
Air Force senior Scott Bradley then gave the Falcons a two-goal advantage with a power-play goal at 14:29 of the second period. Brian Gornick skated the puck down the right wing and fired a shot that was saved by Finday netminder Kevin Fines, but Bradley cleaned up the rebound for his fourth goal of the season.
Findlay made the game interesting late in the third period as the Oilers pulled Fines with just under two minutes remaining.
With the extra skater on the ice, Brant Somerville scored on a slapshot from Jeff Seeds at the 18:42 mark. With the goalie still out of the net, Findlay had several shots late in the period, but Kielkucki made 15 saves in the final period to preserve the win.
The two teams combined for just six penalties in a clean game. The Falcons won the battle of the special teams as Air Force was 1-for-3 on the power play and killed all three of Findlay’s power plays.
The CHA tournament continues Friday as third-seeded Wayne State takes on second seed Niagara in the first semifinal at 4:05 p.m. CST at the Von Braun Center. Following that game, fifth-seeded Air Force and regular-season champion Alabama-Huntsville will battle for the other slot in the finals.