College Hockey:
Air Force and Canisius End in Stalemate

Falcons Comeback Stymied by Late Griffin Goal

— In a game with a lot of back-and-forth action and lead changes, seemingly the only appropriate result was the one achieved as the Air Force Academy Fighting Falcons and the Canisius College Golden Griffins battled to a 3-3 tie Friday night at Cadet Ice Arena.

On a cold, foggy and snowy night made for hockey, the Griffs salvaged the tie after almost allowing a third-period Falcon comeback.

Im happy, said Canisius head coach Dave Smith. It took us a while to get some momentum back ” any momentum. I thought we did that near the end of the game.

Though outshot 14-6 in the first period, Canisius came out with the lead in part to two goals on their first three shots. The Golden Griffs first got on the board 6:43 into the period on a Jason Weeks goal. Weeks tipped in a pass from Derek Danowski just inside the left post past Air Force netminder Andrew Volkening (17 saves).

A little over three minutes later, the Griffins went up 2-0 on a short-handed goal by Eric Rex. Rex picked up a puck that was being bobbled at the blue line by teammate David Kasch and Falcon defenseman Matt Charbonneau, skated in unopposed on Volkening and slipped the puck five-hole.

The Falcons did have some good chances late in the period ” including a three-on-one ” but couldnt convert.

Its almost like weve got to get punched in the face three or four times before we respond and its going to be the death of us if we dont change this because you cant continually spot your opponent points, said Air Force head coach Frank Serratore, commenting that his team has had to come back in 10 of 13 league contests.

Eventually its going to come back and bite you in the tail look how hard it was to claw and scratch our way back into the game tonight? We were lucky.

The teams fought through a scoreless second period that consisted of back-and-forth hockey with both teams getting chances. The Falcons had several chances around the net yet could not get their sticks on the puck. Canisius on the other hand missed an open net and hit a few posts.

The Falcons finally got on the board just as a penalty to Brandon Johnson expired just about five minutes into the third period. Scott Kozlak hopped on the ice for Johnson, got the bounce from a blocked shot by Josh Print leading to a breakaway where he back-handed the puck stick-side on Canisius goaltender Andrew Loewen (30 saves).

Print blocks that shot and makes a big play on the shot block and where [does] it go? It bounces out and just coincidentally Kozlak comes on the ice and picks it up for a breakaway, said Serratore.

Within the next eight minutes, the Falcons took the lead. Josh Schaffer walked a Jeff Hajner tip from the top of the slot to the bottom of the left face-off circle where he put a relatively tough-angle shot past Loewen at the 9:37 part of the period.

Hajner then put a goal of his own off a Matt Fairchild rebound weak side on Loewen to take the lead 12 minutes into the period.

[The] puck got dumped in by one of my linemates, Josh Schaffer, then he ended up getting the puck forechecked deep in the zone, worked real hard, passed it over to [Matt] Fairchild, said Hajner. He just kinda put it in front and I was just lucky to be right around there with no one on me. They did all the work; I just reaped the benefits.

However, the Griffins would not give up and finally tied it back up with a minute and a half remaining in the third. Vincent Scarsella, who hit a post in the second period, took a Brandon Cummings pass out of the corner and knocked it past Volkening for the equalizer.

I thought we gained some very good momentum from two power plays back to back and they scored on a blocked shot breakaway and it really, really took the wind out of the sails, said Smith. Then they get another one.

I thought we started to push back and to take some more pucks to the net and get rewarded with a goal Im happy with the way we responded.

With the tie, the Griffins are 0-4-3 in games decided by one goal or less and both teams went 0-for-7 on the power play.

The two teams face off again tomorrow at Cadet Ice Arena. The puck drop is at 7:05 pm MST.

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