DETROIT — Coming off Friday night’s 4-3 win over Air Force, Wayne State still sat atop the College Hockey America standings. After Saturday’s game, they are still on top of the CHA, but Air Force (10-10-0, 1-7-0 CHA) made some headway with its first conference win of the season, a 5-3 victory at the Great Lakes Sports City.
“This is more relief than anything,” said Air Force head coach Frank Serratore. “To get the first win, especially over the first-place team, now we know we can beat anybody.”
Air Force junior co-captain Andy Berg started the scoring 55 seconds into the game with his 10th of the season. Scott Zwiers won a faceoff deep in the WSU zone back to Berg, whose blast from the top of the circle beat Warriors goalie David Guerrera glove side.
Wayne State (10-9-3, 6-2-2 CHA) evened the game up on a power play at 17:03 as Tyler Kindle scored his seventh goal of the season. Billy Collins had a shot blocked and the loose puck trickled into the left faceoff dot where Kindle walked into it and went glove side on Falcons netminder Mike Polidor.
The middle period was all Air Force. On a power play at 6:10, Zwiers notched his eighth goal on the season. Berg took the shot from the point and Guerrera made a pad save. But the rebound squirted right to Zwiers who put it high over the sprawled goalie.
Then on another man advantage at 15:31, Zwiers tallied his second of the game and ninth of the year. Brian Rodgers put a shot on Guerrera, but the puck came free and Zwiers poked the puck five-hole for a 3-1 Falcons lead.
“In the CHA, special teams are critical,” WSU head coach Bill Wilkinson said.
“Tonight Air Force did all the little things. Our hats off to them — they did what they had to do.”
Wayne State made the game close in the third period. Nathan Rosychuk finished a nice passing play with Collins at 2:12 for his fourth goal. But Air Force restored the two-goal cushion 31 seconds later as Rodgers scored his ninth goal of the year. Berg, with his fourth point of the game, had his initial shot saved by Guerrera, but Rodgers was on the doorstep for the rebound goal.
Collins then put on a show for his sixth goal of the season at 14:50.
Co-captain Keith Stanich carried the puck behind his own net then dished off to Collins. The freshman then went end-to-end and turned Polidor inside out.
Stanich later dove in the crease with just under four minutes to go to save a goal as Guerrera was out of position. Polidor was just as sharp at the other end as he robbed Travis Rycroft and Dusty Kingston from point-blank in the third period.
Kyle Fransdal iced the game for the Falcons at 18:51 as he one-timed a pass from Spanky Leonard on a two-on-one break.
“The monkey is finally off our back,” said Serratore. “We’ve been in every game we’ve played, but just couldn’t catch a break. We didn’t feel any pressure out there tonight. All we wanted to do was go out there and perform well and we did that.”
Air Force next plays Bemidji State and Denver at the Cadet Ice Arena next weekend. WSU travels to Northern Michigan for a pair starting Thursday night.