COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Its too early to tell if the Air Force Academy Fighting Falcons are back, but Friday nights dominant 5-1 victory over rival service academy Army is a good stepping stone.
Were a struggling hockey team that needed to find a way to get a win and feel good about ourselves. Our plan in doing that was simply to go out and lets not get outworked. We may get beat, but were not going to be outworked, and thats all it was, said Air Force coach Frank Serratore.
It wasnt a picture of beauty and I dont know if it ever is going to be when youre desperate.
It was almost like a sleeping giant was ready to come awake and they certainly did that, said Black Knights coach Brian Riley. Theyre too good of a team to lose three games in a row like they had so I fully expected them to be moving like they were tonight.
The Falcons started off the scoring just three minutes in on a Matt Fairchild short-handed goal. Fairchild picked up the puck in the neutral zone, carried it down the near boards and backhanded it over the right shoulder of Army netminder Jay Clark (17 saves).
It was almost like he just said, Enough is enough, said Serratore. That first shorty was a highlight film. How he got that up under the bar was amazing, I thought.
One minute and 34 seconds later, with three seconds remaining in the same man advantage, Army scored a power-play goal. Marcel Alvarez fired an Owen Meyer pass from the top of the circles that deflected off an Air Force defenseman and behind goaltender Andrew Volkening (24 saves) for his first career goal.
Ive been struggling lately and even out there I still dont feel like Im on my game, said Volkening.
But, if youre not on your game and you win, thats a huge confidence boost, thats something you need to get back on track.
However, with 7:05 remaining in the first period, Jacques Lamoureux put Air Force up 2-1. Lamoureux, Josh Frider and Brent Olson were all whacking at the puck in a scrum in front of Clark, but it was Lamoureux who got his stick on the puck and past Clark.
Air Force took a 3-1 lead 1:44 into the second period on another shorthanded goal ” this time from Scott Kozlak. Kozlak got a pass from Olson in the neutral zone, carried it into the zone, used the Army defenseman as a screen, and fired the puck high stick-side past Clark from the top of the left circle.
Fairchild put the Falcons up 4-1 with his second tally of the game with 13:37 remaining in the second period when he fired a tough-angle shot five-hole past Clark.
After the goal, Riley replaced Clark with senior Josh Kassel (19 saves).
A couple of goals, I think Clarky would be the first to tell you that he should have saved them and at that point, we felt it was a good time to slow things down, said Riley. Kassels played against Air Force before and we obviously know that Kassels a good goalie, so I thought he came in and did a hell of a job.
Indeed, Kassel only let in one goal — a Derrick Burnett backhand five-hole shot from the left circle 5:42 into the third period to make it 5-1 Falcons.
Air Force was obviously the hungrier team tonight, said Riley.
The two teams face off again Saturday night. The puck drops at 7:05pm MT.