SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — Air Force scored a season-high five goals and overcame a two-goal deficit for a 5-4 win over American International in a non-conference game Friday, Dec. 10, at the Olympia Ice Center.
Five different Falcons scored as Air Force extended its road winning streak to five, a new school record. The Falcons improved to 8-5-2 overall. AIC fell to 1-8-1. Air Force has now won five of its last six games.
In a game of runs, AIC scored the first two goals, Air Force scored the next five and then AIC scored the final two.
AIC opened the scoring at 10:38 of the first period on Greg Genovese’s first career goal. Todd O’Neil took a shot from the point that was saved by Falcon goalie Ian Harper, but Genovese scored on a rebound right in front of the net.
After the goal, Harper was knocked to the ice and suffered a head injury. He was forced to leave the game and replaced by Peter Foster. The Falcons outshot the Yellow Jackets, 22-11, in the first period but AIC goalie Frank Novello made 22 saves in the period.
The Yellow Jackets took a 2-0 lead at 3:34 of the second period as Jereme Tendler scored on a rebound as he was falling down in front of the net.
The Falcons came back to tie the score before the period ended. Matt Bader drove to the net and was pulled down by AIC’s Ryan Carr, whose tripping penalty led to a Falcon power play and AFA’s first goal of the game, by Brandon Merkosky at 12:47.
Merkosky won the faceoff and got the puck back to the point. Brooks Turnquist made the pass across to Brian Gineo and Gineo’s shot was tipped in by Merkosky for his sixth of the season.
AFA tied the score at 2-2 with 2:23 remaining in the period. Josh Print scored his fourth of the season from Andrew Ramsey and Merkosky. Print walked the puck out from behind the net and as he was falling down and flipped the puck over Novello’s blocker.
Air Force dominated early in the third period and took a 5-2 lead with three goals in the span of three minutes. Seth Pelletier gave the Falcons its first lead of the game at the 4:39 mark. Eric Ehn made the pass from behind the net and Pelletier flipped the puck over Novello’s blocker on the short side for his third goal of the season.
One minute later, Ryan Wiggins scored his second of the season from right in front of the net. Will Zimmerman’s shot from the slot was low on the ice and saved by Novello, but Wiggins punched in the rebound for a 4-2 lead.
Eighty seconds later, Ehn scored his third goal of the season for a 5-2 Falcon lead at 7:43. Ehn took a pass at the bottom of the left circle and went top shelf. Ehn’s goal was the eventual game-winner, the first of his career.
AIC cut the Falcon lead to two goals at 11:11 on a four-on-four situation. Tendler’s shot from the bottom of the circle hit the crossbar, dropped on the goal line and rolled in.
The Yellow Jackets, though, made the game interesting late in the period. After Billy Devoney was called for obstruction-holding, AIC’s Andy Walbert capitalized with a power-play goal with 3:56 remaining in the period. Walbert walked out of the corner to the bottom of the circle and beat Foster high on the short side.
The Yellow Jackets then pulled the goaltender with 48 seconds remaining and had two shots on goal with the extra attacker. With 14 seconds remaining, Foster made a blocker save on Jeremy Leroux’s shot from the bottom of the circle on the short side.
Air Force outshot AIC, 52-45. AFA held a 41-25 advantage after two periods, but AIC outshot the Falcons 20-11 in the third. The Falcons were 1-9 on the power play while AIC was 1-7.
Harper started the game for the Falcons and made six saves. Foster played the final 49 minutes and tied his career high with 35 stops. Novello made 47 stops for AIC.
Air Force tied its season high for shots, as the Falcons also had 52 against AIC earlier this year.
Close games are becoming a habit for the Falcons as eight of the 15 games this season have been decided by one goal or ended in tie. The Falcons are 5-1 in games decided by one goal.
The same two teams conclude the two-game series Saturday at 7:05 pm. EST.