COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Air Force forward Brian Rodgers scored twice and added an assist as the Falcons defeated Findlay, 5-1, Saturday night at the Cadet Ice Arena. With the win, the Falcons completed the sweep of the Oilers and are now unbeaten in their last seven games.
“It’s been a tremendous turnaround,” said coach Frank Serratore. “The effort has been coming from everyone. Who would have thought that we would have won, 4-3 and 5-1, and not have scored on the power play or gotten any goals from [Derek] Olson, the league’s leading scorer?”
The win solidified a fifth-place for the Falcons in the CHA, as their record improved to .500 at 15-15-2 (6-10-2 CHA), while the Oilers fell to 11-21-2 (5-14-1 CHA).
Air Force came out of the gates strong, dominating play in the first period, outshooting the Oilers 17-6. The Falcons got on the board just 2:48 into the game when forward Scott Zwiers batted a backhander past Findlay goaltender Kevin Fines, for his fourth point of the weekend against Findlay. Rodgers and defenseman Joe Locallo added assists on the goal.
The Falcons extended the lead to two midway through the period on Rodgers’ first goal of the game, and third of the weekend. The puck squirted out of a pileup in front of the Findlay net to Rodgers, who backhanded it into an open net. Zwiers and forward Kyle Fransdal assisted.
“I was impressed with how we came out tonight,” said Zwiers. “It was good to sustain it for 60 minutes after a tough game yesterday. We just came out and wanted to play. Sometimes it bounces your way, sometimes it doesn’t, and right now it is for us. We’re playing strong at the right time and that makes it fun.”
Rodgers netted his second goal of the evening early in the second period to give the Falcons a 3-0 lead. Zwiers won an offensive zone faceoff back to Rodgers, who shot off a quick wrister that beat Fines through the legs.
Air Force added two more goals in the third period, including a fitting finish as senior forwards Ryan Smith and Jace Anders each assisted on Justin Hamilton’s goal with 23 seconds remaining in the game, in their final home game as Falcons.
Findlay added a goal at 16:34 of the period from forward Andy Croak, which spoiled Air Force goaltender Mike Polidor’s shutout bid.
“Poli was great this weekend,” said Serratore. “We would have liked to have gotten him the shutout, but he got his first league sweep and that’s great. He deserved it.”
Air Force and Findlay are both off next weekend and will play in the CHA Tournament at Niagara the following weekend. Air Force will be the No. 5 seed and will play the No. 4 seed, while Findlay, No. 6, will play the No. 3 seed. Seeds two through four will be finalized after next weekend’s series between Bemidji State and Alabama-Huntsville.