COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — A game they were dominating turned into a tight contest late, and the Air Force Falcons held on for a 4-3 win over the Holy Cross Crusaders before 2,790 fans at the Cadet Ice Arena. The attendance marked the seventh straight sellout for the Falcons, and tenth of the year, a school record for any sport.
Jacques Lamoureux had a goal and two assists and Andrew Volkening made 25 saves for the Falcons, who improved to 21-8-2 on the year.
Air Force carried the play early, helped by two early penalties on the Crusaders. The Falcons bottled the Crusaders up in their own end, generating several good scoring chances.
“I really liked our energy in the first period,” said Falcons’ coach Frank Serratore. “I really like our play from about three-fourths of our team. This game, in my opinion, we won because of our depth. Our third and fourth lines, and Burnett and Fairchild, won that game for us. Our supposed ‘have-not’ guys were the ones who got it done for us.”
Josh Frider finally capitalized on a pretty play. Frider got the puck in the left corner and skated behind the Crusaders net and out the other side. As he approached the faceoff circle, he whirled and got off a wrist shot that beat Ian Dams short side at 7:59.
“They came out with a lot of energy early and put us on our heels a bit,” said Crusaders’ coach Paul Pearl. “We had four penalties in the first period; it’s tough to generate any offense when you’re killing. We just hung in there all night.”
The Crusaders however, who have played opportunistic hockey all season, tied it up at the midway point of the period on a harmless looking play. Jordan Cyr picked up a rebound of a Matt Clune shot in the slot and backhanded it top corner glove side past Volkening at 10:08.
Seemingly angered by the goal, the Falcons came back flying, generating several strong chances. However, it was an innocuous shot from the point that got the lead back. Lamoureux won a draw at the right side faceoff circle back to Tim Kirby at the left point, and Kirby fired a wrist shot on goal that beat Dams high glove side.
The Falcons got a late goal to take a healthy lead into the first intermission. Greg Flynn fired a shot on net and the rebound came to Lamoureux by the right post. Lamoureux had a wide-open net, and fired it in at 18:04.
“That’s huge for our team when we get scored on like that to bounce back,” said Lamoureux. “We had a lot of energy. When you get scored on, you want to come back the next shift and keep the pressure on, and we did a good job of that.”
The second period was considerably quieter. At the midway point, the shots were only 3-2 in favor of Air Force. Both teams seemed a little tired, and the Falcons were content to keep the play to the perimeter.
However, the the Falcons expanded their lead to three on an own goal. Matt Fairchild took a shot from the left side that hit Dams and bounced up in the air and fell behind him. Ryan Driscoll reached over to clear it and instead knocked it in at the 12:57 mark.
The Falcons had a golden chance to extend their lead and close the door on the Crusaders when Cyr was whistled for charging at the 5:41 mark of the third. The Falcons kept the puck in the offensive zone for almost the full two minutes, and Brent Olson had one golden chance to score on a back door play, but Dams made some key saves.
“I think that tonight we killed penalties really well,” said Pearl. “What happens is, you get trapped in; that’s why they bottled us up so well. When you can’t clear the puck, you have guys out there for over a minute, and they hung in there. They got back to the net and made sure nothing happened. We were probably a little fortunate. Getting out of that PK, we come back and score and I think you could feel the momentum shift.”
Bolstered by the kill, the Crusaders got an opportunistic goal from Andrew Cox at 11:36 to cut the deficit to two. The goal came just as a power play for the Crusaders expired. Standing at the right side boards, Cox got a pass from Clune at the point, wheeled into the right faceoff circle and fired a wrist shot from the top of the circle that beat Volkening high glove side.
“We let them back in the game, which is kind of a characteristic of our play the last month and a half,” said Lamoureux. “When we get teams down like that, we really need to put them away.”
Determined to make the game interesting, the Crusaders struck again from almost the same place. Making a rush from their own end, Kyle Atkins got a pass from Luke Miller, raced into the right circle and ripped a shot low that beat Volkenning at 14:21.
“You never want to lose, but at the same time I take a lot of positives from tonight,” said Pearl. “I thought we really answered a tough spot on the road. Going into the third period down 4-1, it’s easy to pack your bags and the guys didn’t; they kept coming at them.”
After the third goal, Serratore went with his third and fourth lines, who played outstanding defense all night, and they shut down the Crusaders the rest of the way, keeping the Crusaders from getting any good chances to tie the game.
“We let them hang around; fortunately we had a three-goal lead instead of a two-goal lead and it was a little too much for them to come back from,” said Serratore. “Those three or four minutes, the ‘have-nots’ should be puffing their chests a little right now. Not only did they get their names called, they got the job done. I thought they did a great job. After they scored the last goal, I don’t think they had a grade ‘A’ shot the rest of the way.”