College Hockey:
Falcons Blank Yellow Jackets

Air Force Earns Playoff Date with Bentley

— On a night honoring seniors, it was the freshman who shined, scoring three of the five goals the Air Force Academy Fighting Falcons scored in a 5-0 victory over the Yellow Jackets of American International College.

Theyre a very fine hockey team and when they get it going, they can really take it to you, said Yellow Jackets head coach Gary Wright. They showed that tonight.

Freshman Derrick Burnett started off the scoring about four minutes in. Burnett caught a bouncing puck on the edge of the crease off a Jeff Hajner and knocked it past Yellow Jacket goaltender Dan Ramirez (21 saves).

About five minutes later, the Falcons went up 2-0. Josh Schaffer got the puck at the red line, skated down the left side of the ice and backhanded it to Sean Bertsch in the slot who tapped it past Ramirez.

With about seven minutes remaining in the period, Blake Page picked up a misplayed drop pass by Ramirez behind the net and fed it to a waiting Owen Kelly in the slot who shot it, short-handed, left side on Ramirez.

Our freshmen, its nice, said Falcons head coach Frank Serratore. Burnett has really come on, Bertsch is playing very, very good hockey right now and the freshmen line with Page and Kelly — they had a shorty.

Hajner would put the Falcons up 4-0 by the end of the opening frame, however. After a give-and-go with teammate Michael Mayra in the neutral zone, Hajner got the puck back at the blue line, came down short side and wristed it high glove side on Ramirez for a power-play goal with 13 seconds remaining on the clock.

Im not known for being much of a fast guy and I was kind of just able to find a hole and kind of caught their defenseman flat-footed, said Hajner. Actually, to be honest, I wasnt shooting where I shot, but it happened to go in and it was kind of a nice play all around by everybody.

We just overwhelmed them early and that goal that Jeff Hajner scored with [13] seconds left I think broke their spirit, said Serratore.

After a goal-filled first period, the second was full of back-and-forth action without much excitement until the last two minutes of the period. Brent Olson one-timed a Scott Kozlak pass across the top of the crease into a virtually wide-open net past Ramirez to make it 5-0.

To try and shake things up, the Yellow Jackets put in back-up Tom Fenton ” who helped AIC to a 2-2 tie last night — in goal for the third period (12 saves).

We left [Ramirez] a little bit out to dry in the first period obviously and he took a puck to the hand in the second period so our trainer thought it might be wise to [sit him down], said Wright. But Tom came in and played very well in a difficult situation.

However, the Yellow Jackets still could not get anything past Air Force netminder Andrew Volkening who held on for the shut-out (19 saves).

We can always rely on [Volkening], said Hajner. hes the backbone of the team.

We were flying tonight and we were on our game but the game was over early and Im glad we go through it and nobody got hurt and now we can prepare for next week, said Serratore, referring to the Falcons playoff series against Bentley College.

As mentioned, Air Force next hosts the Bentley College Falcons in a best-of-three quarterfinal series at Cadet Ice Arena, starting Friday night at 7:05 Mountain. AIC, on the other hand, travels to West Point, N.Y., for a best-of-three series against Atlantic Hockey-leading Army starting Friday night at 7:05 Eastern.

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