ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Brent Olson scored two goals to lead the Air Force Falcons to a 3-1 victory over host RIT in the final regular season game for both teams. With the win, Air Forced earned a split of the weekend series, and a share of the Atlantic Hockey regular season championship with the Tigers, who took Friday’s contest, 6-4.
Air Force will be the top seed in the AHA playoffs based on tiebreakers.
“It was a great weekend of hockey, and I think it’s fair that the teams share this championship,” said RIT coach Wayne Wilson. “They’re two great teams that played each other evenly.”
“It’s the way it should be,” agreed Air Force coach Frank Serratore. “The teams had exactly the same records.”
Both teams finished 20-6-2 in league play and split their season series 2-2. Air Force outscored RIT 11-10 in those four games, and gets the top seed based on that tiebreaker.
After a wild game on Friday that saw 74 shots on goal including 40 for RIT, this contest was a more tightly played affair, with Air Force limiting RIT to just 18 shots.
“We can’t get into a reckless game with (RIT),” said Serratore. “Our strength is skating ability and they have savvy players that capitalize on mistakes. We didn’t make as many mistakes tonight.”
RIT senior Brennan Sarazin opened the scoring at 4:25 of the first period, taking a feed from Tyler Brenner and beating Air Force goaltender Andrew Volkening five-hole.
The Falcons would take the lead in the second period with a pair of goals by Olson, his eighth and ninth of the season. At 6:13, he scored on the power play, walking in on RIT goaltender Louis Menard and putting a wrist shot over his shoulder. Olson would score again at 16:40 off a goalmouth feed from Tim Kirby.
“Olson had a great game,” said Serratore. “He’s been up and down for us this season, but tonight he played like the Brent Olson of old.”
Blake Page would get an insurance goal for the Falcons at 7:59 of the third period on a wraparound, with assists going to Scott Kozlak and Brett Nylander.
Volkening picked up his 23rd win of the season, finishing with 17 saves. Menard made 22 saves and lost for just the second time in league play this season (8-2-2).
“We didn’t work hard enough tonight,” said Wilson. “We had the championship in our back pocket from last night, and were a little complacent. Credit Air Force. They worked extremely hard.”
Both teams have a bye in the first round of the AHA playoffs, and will host quarterfinal best-of-three series the weekend of March 13-15.