College Hockey:
Third-Period Burst Lifts Wayne State Over Air Force

— Wayne State scored three goals in the third period for a come-from-behind, 3-2 win over Air Force in a College Hockey America game Saturday at the Cadet Ice Arena.

Air Force had a 2-0 lead with 14 minutes remaining, but the Warriors scored three in a span of seven minutes. Air Force fell to 8-12-2 overall and 2-7-1 in the CHA. Wayne State snapped a four-game losing skid and improved to 6-12-2 overall and 2-6 in the league.

Air Force held on to fourth place in the CHA while WSU moved into fifth.

“We let them hang around and we didn’t put them away,” head coach Frank Serratore said. “They were tired in the third period and we had more energy. But when they scored their first goal, they came to life. A two-goal lead is the most deceptive in hockey. If we get the next one then we probably put them away. Instead they scored it.”

The Falcons scored once in the first period and once in the second period. Mike Knaeble gave the Falcons a 1-0 lead as he scored from Seth Pelletier and Shane Saum at 6:36 of the opening period. His shot came from the high slot and beat Marc Carlson high glove side.

In the second period, Ryan Wiggins’ fifth goal of the season gave the Falcons a two-goal lead. Wiggins scored from the right post on the power play from Spanky Leonard and Steve Mead.

Air Force was in control until midway through the third period. A goal by Billy Collins just after a Falcon power play at 6:47 ignited the Warriors. WSU chipped the puck out of their own end and Collins was all alone at the Falcon blue line. He skated down the left wing and fired a shot that hit Mike Polidor in the pad and squirted through his legs.

Wayne State continued to pressure the Falcons. After Nate Higgins won a faceoff, Ryan Wright tied the game with a one-timer at 12:12 of the third period. Just over a minute later, Jason Baclig scored the game winner from Aaron Hundt on a breakaway at 13:52.

In the final minute, Polidor was pulled from the net and Air Force had several quality chances right in front of the Warrior net. Brandon Merkosky had two shots and Wiggins had one near the left post but Carlson made the stops.

Air Force outshot Wayne State, 36-31, in the game. The Falcons were 1-for-8 on the power play while the Warriors were 0-for-4. Polidor made 28 saves for the Falcons while Carlson made 34 for the Warriors.

“Until we start to score more goals, we aren’t going to win a lot of games,” Serratore said. “Mike Polidor has been very good for us this season, but he wasn’t very good in the third period. But when we only score two goals a game, our goaltending has to be perfect.

“That is a lot of pressure. You get what you deserve sometimes. If you don’t put people away when you have a chance, someone is going to take it from you.”

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