COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Aided by two power-play goals and an anemic Air Force power play, the Sacred Heart University Pioneers downed the Air Force Academy Fighting Falcons 4-1 Saturday night at Cadet Ice Arena. The win evened up the best-of-three series, forcing a game three for Sunday night.
The win was also the first ever for the Pioneers at Air Force.
The Pioneers got on the board first 3:36 into the first period when Anthony Yelevich picked up the puck behind the net and backhanded it in front of the net to Bear Trapp, who knocked it past Falcon netminder Andrew Volkening (nine saves).
SHU took a 2-0 lead on a power-play goal at about the halfway point of the period when Matt Gingera’s blast from the point beat a screened Volkening.
Air Force cut the lead to 2-1 4:01 into the second period on a Scott Kozlak short-handed goal. Kozlak picked up a loose puck in the crease and slid it past a sprawled, out-of-position Stefan Drew (42 saves).
The Pioneers went up 3-1 on a fluky play. Air Force’s Greg Flynn misplayed the puck off a face-off and accidentally backhanded it five-hole past Volkening. The goal was credited to SHU’s face-off man, Eric Giosa and was actually the Pioneers’ only credited shot all period.
“That might be the best goal I ever had there,” quipped Giosa. “Lost the draw even on that one and I still got credit for the goal.”
The Falcons, who had 16 shots in the second period, were on the power play for almost seven of the final eight minutes of the frame, but squandered their time on the man-advantage, even failing to score during 3:05 of a continuous five-on-three advantage.
“It happens,” said Falcons’ coach Frank Serratore. “Drew was very good. He had what, 41 saves or something?
“We had two five-on-threes lumped together and we didn’t get it done.”
“The strength of your penalty kill is your goaltender and the guys in front of him were doing the right things and [Drew] was there to make the save when we needed it,” said Sacred Heart coach Shaun Hannah. “That was probably the most complete game as far as how we played on the penalty kill. We got five guys on the ice and the fifth one’s our goaltender and our goaltender was fantastic.”
Sacred Heart, on a five-on-three advantage of their own early in the third period, scored 1:15 in to make it 4-1 when Giosa got his second of the night.
“Bear [Trapp] slid it across the crease to me and I just got it up over his pad with the backhand there,” said Giosa.
Serratore pulled Volkening with a little over four minutes to play in the third to try and generate some offense. His plan was halted when Josh Frider was called for his third penalty of the game with 3:30 remaining, forcing Volkening to go back in net.
However, a Dave Jarman slashing call 40 seconds later at 18:01 negated the Frider call and Volkening was once again pulled. Thanks to an additional Pioneers’ penalty on Chris Bailer with 1:13 remaining, the Falcons finished off the game with another five-on-three (six-on-three once Frider returned), but once again, could do nothing with it.
“We didn’t deserve to win that game,” said Serratore. “We got behind in the game. We got out-special teamed in the game. We got out-goaltended in the game. We didn’t win a period, so to be honest with you, we got what we deserved.
“We gotta flush this game and we gotta get ready to play tomorrow. “We’ve got to bounce back. We can’t be mad, we can’t feel sorry for ourselves, we can’t be mad at ourselves, we can’t be mad at our teammates; we’ve got to flush it and we’ve got to get ready to play.
“It’s tournament hockey now; it’s win or go home.”
The two teams face off again Sunday night at Cadet Ice Arena. Game time is set for 7:05 p.m. Mountain.