KEARNEY, Neb. — Findlay may have been the last of the six College Hockey America teams to show up, but it showed up ready to play.
The Oilers arrived in town at midnight, just 15 hours before their quarterfinal game with Air Force, but jumped out to a 6-0 first-period lead en route to a 9-1 rout of the Falcons.
Findlay took the early 1-0 lead at the 7:04 mark, as Kris Wiebe scored on a pass from Andrew Radzak and Nate Markus, while the Oilers had a power-play advantage.
Wiebe earned his first of his two assists, as he helped on David Vogt’s goal at 9:52. Wiebe added another assist, as he and Dave Erickson teamed to help on Justin Perry’s goal at 10:49.
Chris Wellar scored at 14:19 to put the Oilers up by four off of a pass from Rigel Shaw. Kurtis Peterson added the fifth of the period off helpers from Markus and Brian Sherry at the 15:56 mark and with just under 32 seconds remaining, Kyle Ukrainyc added the sixth off of Radzak and Kurt Wright.
After a flurry of goals in the first, the second session was quieter, with each team scoring just once. Findlay scored at 2:01 in the period, as Radzak and Ukrainyc teamed up again for Radzak’s goal.
Air Force finally lit the lamp at the 17:01 mark, when freshman Brandon Merkosky earned his seventh goal of the season off a pass by senior Shane Saum and classmate Brian Gineo.
The Oilers added a pair of scores in the third to earn their first CHA tournament victory. Mark Bastl scored off passes from Erickson and Wiebe at 7:45. Wiebe became the only Oiler to score more than once, as he added his second goal of the night at the 15:41 mark.
“Findlay came out and their intensity level was just higher than ours,” Air Force head coach Frank Serratore said. “The puck dropped and they were on a mission.”
With its six goals in the first period, Findlay set a new CHA tournament record for goals in a period, besting the previous mark of five that Wayne State put up against Niagara last season.
Air Force senior goaltender Mike Polidor took the net for the Falcons after Findlay’s third goal, replacing freshman Peter Foster. Polidor had 24 saves as Findlay outshot the Falcons 40-18.