ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Andrew Volkening recorded his second shutout of the weekend to lead the Air Force Falcons to a 2-0 victory over Mercyhurst in the Atlantic Hockey championship. The junior goaltender stopped all 25 shots for his 27th win and fifth shutout of the season.
Air Force captured its third consecutive Atlantic Hockey title. The Falcons have won the playoff title all three years they have been in the league.
“Three-for-three; who would have thought,” said Air Force coach Frank Serratore. “I’m humbled by these young men and what they’ve been able to accomplish. I couldn’t be more proud of our team. We put a game plan together and the boys executed it to perfection.”
Volkening extended his shutout streak at Blue Cross Arena to 150 minutes, dating back to last year’s double overtime win over Mercyhurst in last season’s AHA finals. He shut out Bentley 3-0 in yesterday’s semifinal.
“I credit it to the guys around me,” Volkening said. “I really can’t think of any tough chances we gave up tonight. I just tried to shut them down as long as possible.”
The Falcons got all the scoring they needed 3:02 into the contest. Scott Mathis’ shot from the point was deflected by Jacques Lamoureux past Mercyhurst goaltender Ryan Zapolski. It was Lamoureux’s 32nd goal of the season, tops in the nation.
“I didn’t see the shot,” said Zapolski. “I knew (Mathis) shot it but didn’t see it. I know it was tipped.”
Matt Fairchild got his third goal of the weekend at 1:11 of the second period. Mathis split the Mercyhurst defense and put a shot on Zapolski, who made the save, but was out of position to handle the rebound, and Fairchild had an open net.
“Somebody got a shot and the rebound ended up on my tape,” said Fairchild. “I was in the right place at the right time.”
Fairchild was named the tournament MVP, but handed the trophy to Volkening during the awards ceremony.
“I thought it should have gone to ‘Volks’,” he said. “You can’t argue with back-to-back shutouts.”
“Matt’s our best all-purpose player,” said Serrratore. “With his skating ability and skill, he’s a guy that logs some extra minutes up front. He never gets tired.”
The Lakers were never able to get their high-powered offense in gear, and as a result saw their season ended by the Falcons for the second straight year.
“Mercyhurst generates energy off their offense,” said Serratore. “They score in bunches. We couldn’t afford to let the fuse get lit.”
“I thought (Air Force) clearly deserved it,” said Mercyhurst coach Rick Gotkin. “Their game plan was to not let us get going, and we never got it going. We did not have what it took tonight and I give Air Force all the credit for that. They battened down the hatches.”
“It’s definitely a tough pill to swallow losing to the same team twice,” said Mercyhurst captain Kirk Medernach. “Last year, we felt like we deserved to win but this year I don’t think we did.”
The Falcons will play in their third consecutive NCAA tournament. Air Force put a scare into Minnesota in 2007 and Miami last season.
“We want to be a difficult team to play against and have a chance to win in a third period,” said Serratore. “You can’t win a game in the first period but you can lose it in the first period. I feel good going into the game because we have a good solid defense.”