COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — It took three and a half months, but it finally happened.
The Air Force Academy Falcons finally got swept.
With their 4-2 loss to the Canisius College Golden Griffins Saturday night at Cadet Ice Arena, the Falcons also dropped to second place in Atlantic Hockey for the first time all season.
The Falcons got on board first a little over halfway through the first period, thanks to Derrick Burnett picking off a Canisius breakout pass. Golden Griffins’ netminder Andrew Loewen made the initial stop, but couldn’t hold on to the puck. As a result, Matt Fairchild swooped in and roofed the puck over Loewen (46 saves).
“Air Force throws a lot of pucks to the net; they’re a good offensive team and they’ve had a lot of success scoring this year,” said Canisius coach Dave Smith. “Andrew stood tall when called upon and that’s what you need to win.”
The Griffs tied it up though, just 31 seconds into the second period on the tail end of a five-on-three power play. Cory Conacher picked up a Carl Hudson rebound in the slot and knocked it past Falcons’ goaltender Andrew Volkening (21 saves).
Canisius went up 2-1 10:19 into the frame off a faceoff goal. Spencer Churchill won the puck back to Hudson, who skated down below the goal line and made a centering pass in front of the net to Ryan Klusendorf, who fired it past Volkening.
With 31 seconds left in the period, Dave Cianfrini blocked a shot in the Falcons’ zone and kicked it to Jason Weeks, who skated down the ice short-handed and beat Volkening to make it 3-1.
“Obviously the play of the game as it turns out is the short-handed goal and it’s kind of funny how that can go,” said Air Force coach Frank Serratore. “[Jeff] Hajner has the puck and he whiffs on his shot, we had to come back in and Fairchild’s got one and he gets his pocket picked and leads to a short-handed goal and that ended up being the game-winning goal.”
The Falcons came within one 4:12 into the third period after Blake Page took his own rebound and scored a wraparound goal, but couldn’t seem to get the equalizer, despite a myriad of chances.
“It wasn’t really until Page scored in the third period that I thought we took the game over,” said Serratore. “To be honest, I really thought we were going to tie this game but it wasn’t to be.”
Indeed, Vincent Scarsella put the game away for the Golden Griffins, putting them up 4-2 with an empty-net goal with 1:39 remaining, sealing the weekend sweep.
“I breathed a lot easier [after that goal], but there’s still over a minute left in the game and they’re a dangerous team,” said Smith. “We had to play right to the end and we know Air Force is going to continue to come and continue to pressure.
“Obviously it’s a terrific weekend and Air Force is a very, very good hockey team and I think that our effort was excellent and I’m proud of our guys and happy for our guys.”
The Falcons next host conference and military rival Army while the Golden Griffins return home to play a series with the Rochester Institute of Technology.