U.S.A.F. ACADEMY, Colo — A disallowed goal as the buzzer went off secured a 2-1 victory for Colorado College over Air Force in the season opener for both teams at the Academy’s Cadet Ice Arena.
An over-capacity crowd of 2,995, the third-largest official attendance in school history, watched a game that literally came down to the final horn.
With 13th-ranked Colorado College leading 2-1, the Falcons pulled their goaltender with 1:36 remaining in the third period. In the final seconds, Eric Ehn sent a pass from near the right corner that got through traffic to the opposite post. Just before the horn went off, Michael Mayra tipped the puck in the net, but his stick was too high and the goal was waved off by referee Ed Boyle.
“I thought it was a high stick and it was a good call,” head coach Frank Serratore said. “But this was a very winnable game for us and it was a missed opportunity. We had a great opportunity and we just didn’t get it done. Our guys were pressing so hard and they got too high for the game.”
Air Force let a major opportunity slip away in the first period when CC winger James Brannigan was called for a five-minute checking from behind penalty and was given a game misconduct. The Falcons had just five shots on goal in the five-minute power play, but all five were turned away by CC goalie Matt Zaba.
The Falcons outshot the Tigers, 12-5, in the opening period but neither team scored. CC opened the scoring at the 9:48 mark of the second period on a delayed penalty. With the extra skater on the ice, Jimmy Kilpatrick took a pass from Scott Thauwald in the slot and beat Peter Foster through the five-hole.
The Tigers took a 2-0 lead early in the third period on Kilpatrick’s second goal of the game. Chad Rau’s cross ice pass from the right point to the left post found Kilpatrick wide open for a two-goal Tiger advantage.
Air Force got on the board at the 7:36 mark after winning a faceoff in the offensive end. Andrew Ramsey won the draw and Mike Phillipich fed Ehn in the slot. Ehn went high to beat Zaba to cut the CC lead to 2-1.
After pulling the goaltender in the final minutes, the Falcons had two shots on net, one by Ramsey and one by Mayra, but both were saved by Zaba.
Air Force out-shot CC, 26-19, in the game. Zaba stopped 25 of the 26 Falcon shots, including 10 in the third period. Foster made 17 saves for the Falcons. Air Force was 0-for-8 on the power play while CC was 1-for-8.
“We believe that we have a good team,” Serratore added. “We didn’t win the special teams tonight. When you only give up two goals in your own building, you should win those games. We believed that tonight was our night, but I felt like we played a “B” game. Our guys try so hard and the work ethic is there every night, but we need to find a way to win.”
The Tigers host Alabama-Huntsville on Saturday night while the Falcons will play host to the same Charges squad on Sunday evening at the Cadet Ice Arena.