COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The Air Force Falcons were able to score first Saturday night, but the tenacity of the Canisius Golden Griffins once again forced a comeback goal to force a 3-3 tie for the second night of the weekend.
“I feel very good,” said Canisius coach Dave Smith. “I thought we played very smart hockey against an excellent hockey club.”
The first half of the opening frame was all Air Force, with the Falcons applying tons of pressure and getting the first goal — something coach Frank Serratore stressed the team needed to do in Friday’s contest. With a 5-on-3 advantage, Brent Olson was the recipient of a tic-tac-toe passing play to give Air Force the first goal of the game. Eric Ehn and Greg Flynn assisted on the play at the 8:29 mark.
Five and a half minutes later, Olson and Ehn connected on a pretty passing play on the tail end of a penalty to defenseman Michael Mayra to put the Falcons up by two.
“Entering the zone I feel a little bit better sliding the puck to [Olson] than taking it to the hole myself right now,” said Ehn. “I’m eager to get him the puck and if he’s going to keep scoring goals like he is, [it's] not a bad strategy.”
However, the Golden Griffins took advantage of a couple of Air Force penalties to tie the game up. Chris Forsman knocked in a Vincent Scarsella pass past Falcon netminder Andrew Volkening for a power-play tally at 17:30. Then, with four seconds remaining in the frame, Scarsella once again on the power play tossed the puck in front of Volkening and this time, David Kasch was there to pop it in.
“Air Force came out very, very determined and very, very strong and we needed our power play to get us back into the game and it did,” said Smith.
Sophomore Jeff Hajner put the Falcons back up by a goal four minutes into the second. Hajner picked up a clearing pass from Frank Schiavone near center ice, skated down and wristed the puck short-side past Griffs’ goaltender Andrew Loewen (40 saves).
As in the first, the Golden Griffins were able to tie the game back up late in the period. Volkening made the initial stop on Carl Hudson on a Canisius three-on-one but the trailer, Jason Weeks, was there to tap in the rebound for a four-on-four goal with 1:49 to go in the second.
“I thought our guys showed terrific resolve and character in tying it up again,” said Smith.
“When we made a mistake, it was a three-on-one,” said Olson. “They had a three-on-one or they had a two-on-one or they had a breakaway or something like that.
“We’ve got to limit those big mistakes.”
The teams battled through a scoreless third and on to overtime, but the end result was the same.
“We were better tonight and Loewen was very good when he needed to be,” said Serratore. “I don’t want to be critical of Andrew [Volkening; 21 saves] tonight because Andrew did a find job for us tonight.
“I’m just disappointed. It leaves you with a blah feeling. We wanted to end this homestand with a win and we didn’t do that.”
Both teams are off until the end of the month. Canisius hosts Niagara on Dec. 30 and Air Force takes on Boston College at the Dodge Holiday Classic in Minneapolis, Minn. on Dec. 29.