COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The scoreboard read 2-0 in favor of Air Force early, and No. 4 Colorado College’s 22-game streak against the Falcons seemed in jeopardy.
But the Tigers (5-1-0, 0-0-0 WCHA) powered their way to a 6-3 come-from-behind victory Saturday night thanks to a pair of goals by Marty Sertich, four assists by Brian Salcido, and five tallies with the man advantage.
The Falcons (1-5-0, 0-0-0 CHA) notched the first goal of the game less than three minutes into play. Mike Knaeble created a turnover in the neutral zone and sprung Theo Zacour in alone on freshman Colorado College netminder Drew O’Connell. Zacour sent a snap shot past O’Connell’s blocker to give the visitors a 1-0 edge.
Air Force gained a 2-0 lead five minutes later thanks to a questionable checking-from-behind major call on Colorado College’s Derek Patrosso. Eric Ehn took advantage, working his way to the side of the net and banging home an easy backdoor feed from Andrew Ramsey.
Patrosso received a game misconduct, leaving the Tigers behind on the scoreboard and short on the bench. The veteran squad refused to surrender, however.
“It was early enough, and there are enough veterans on our bench, that panic didn’t really set in,” said Colorado College head coach Scott Owens. “I think there was a quiet confidence. I think if they would have gotten the third goal it might have been different.”
Chad Rau helped slice the Falcon lead in half at 16:27 of the first period when he set up Marty Sertich for a power-play goal. Rau collected his own blocked shot at the top of the left circle and calmly fed an open Sertich, who was parked at the side of the Air Force net.
The goal was the first of two on the night for last year’s Hobey Baker winner, and his third on the weekend. Meanwhile, Colorado College finished the night 5-12 on the power play, including netting two five-on-three tallies.
“We just tried to keep things simple and not over-do it,” said Sertich of his team’s power play. “Salcido’s shooting the puck much better, and we’ve got the young guy Chad on the point, so that’s kind of fresh. It just comes down to hard work.”
Colorado College cashed in on a two-man advantage three minutes into the second period to tie the game at 2-2. With the outnumbered defenders scrambling, Brett Sterling located a loose puck and banged it into an open side.
Rau notched a power-play goal of his own five minutes into the middle frame to give Colorado College its first lead. Rau’s one-timer from the top of the left circle found a hole through a heavy screen and hit the back of the net to lift the Tigers to a 3-2 lead.
The Tigers took a 4-2 lead midway through the second period. Braydon Cox shot a backhander that trickled through Air Force goaltender Ian Harper’s pads and just over the goal line. All six of junior Cox’s career goals have been game-winners.
Air Force cut the Colorado College lead to 4-3 when captain Matt Bader guided the puck through O’Connell’s legs for a power-play tally at 16:34 of the second period. The freshman netminder allowed three goals on only thirteen shots in 40 minutes of action. Junior Chris Kawano spelled O’Connell for the final period.
“We were just trying to get him some minutes,” said Owens of O’Connell, whose only other action with the Tigers came in an exhibition game against Lakehead. “He’s a young kid. He needs to get some more experience. He gave up three goals on only a few shots, but I think the first two were pretty good goals, and the last one was just unlucky.”
Colorado College pulled away five minutes into the third period after a wrist shot off of the stick of Scott McCulloch gave the Tigers a 5-3 lead. Sertich notched his second of the night with his team on the two-man advantage five minutes later to extend the lead to three goals.
The Tigers will begin league play next week when they travel to take on Minnesota State Mankato. Meanwhile, Air Force will host CHA opponent Bemidji State.