COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Air Force forward Spanky Leonard scored his third goal of the game with just under five minutes left in regulation to draw Air Force even with the US Under-18 team, 6-6, Sunday night at the Cadet Ice Arena.
The game could be broken up into two different parts. It started with Air Force taking the play to the National Team, scoring four goals in the first period to go to the locker room with a 4-1 lead over a tentative-looking Under-18 squad.
Team USA was able to turn that around however, gaining confidence throughout the evening, and scoring five out the next six goals, to take a 6-5 lead at 2:58 of the third period.
The period began with Air Force leading 5-4, but Team USA evened it up early when Ryan Kesler stuffed a wraparound attempt past Air Force goalie Zach Sikich. Kesler, who has verbally committed to Ohio State for next season received a pass from Patrick Eaves. Team USA then took the lead just 2:30 later when Evan Shaw scored a short-handed goal that fooled Sikich.
The two teams played back and forth for about 12 minutes until Ray Ortiz picked up a slashing minor for Team USA. On the subsequent power play, Spanky Leonard sent a wrister from the left point that found its way past Team USA goalie Gerald Coleman.
“I just threw it towards the net,” said Leonard of the tying goal. “I really didn’t have a clear lane, but I guess you can’t go wrong shooting.”
Air Force goalies Jeremy High and Sikich made a combined 36 saves, including 17 by Sikich in the third period alone, in the tie, while Coleman stopped 14 Falcon shots.
In the end, all of the Air Force’s scoring came from five different players, who all had multiple point nights. Leonard led the way with his hat trick and one assist. Also collecting four points were Berg with a goal and three assists, and Tom Starkley with three assists. Scott Zwiers had a goal and two assists, while Joe Locallo had one of each.
Four Team USA skaters had multiple-point nights: Jim McKenzie, Brett Sterling, and Kesler each had a goal and an assist, while Eaves added two assists.
Air Force returns to the ice next weekend for a pair of CHA games at Alabama-Huntsville. Game time each night is set for 7:05 CDT. The US National Under-18 team plays twice before it resumes its schedule of collegiate games Nov. 3 at Yale.