STORRS, Conn. 06269 — Following a 2-2 draw with Connecticut Friday night, Air Force coach Frank Serratore was quick to point out his team’s stalling offensive attack, which had scored just five goals in the three previous games.
He was also quick to note that the Falcons had collected four of a possible six points over those games, as they hadn’t suffered a loss since October 31 at Canisius.
Air Force’s point streak continued Saturday night at Mark Edward Freitas Ice Forum, but a quick strike offense in the second period put an end to their scoring drought, as they downed Connecticut 3-1.
“I thought we played a pretty good six periods [on the weekend],” Serratore said. “Territorially, I thought we dominated, but they protect the house so well it’s tough to get anything through to the net and when we do get them through, they’ve got bodies and get rebounds.
An uneventful first period saw the teams combine for seventeen shots (twelve by the Falcons). The best scoring chance for either side came when Air Force’s Blake Page was called for tripping at 15:27. Connecticut won the faceoff and was able to keep the puck in their offensive end before the Falcons cleared twenty seconds into the man advantage.
As the clock ticked down on Page’s penalty, Scott Kozlak was whistled for holding, giving the Huskies a five-on-three advantage for nine seconds. In the fleeting window, UConn’s Alex Gerke ripped a shot that was wide of the pipes.
The Falcons generated all three of their second periods goals in stretch that spanned just under seven minutes.
After two UConn skaters ran into each other in Air Force’s end, the Falcons drove up the ice with a two man advantage. The Huskies were able to recover and bring their full strength down the ice, but Air Force’s Paul Weisgarber took a Jacques Lamoureux pass and beat Jeff Larson at 2:28.
“I think the biggest thing is that we have a lot of speed and skill,” Lamoureux said. “We might have lacked a little bit of grit at times. We want to get pucks to the net, but we also we also want to get more traffic to the net…tonight, we got pucks to the net. We had a lot of opportunities and we beared down and I don’t think that’s something we’ve been doing.”
Page came on the ice on a line change and was able to get behind the Huskies’ defense just under two minutes later to give the Falcons a 2-0 lead, while Lamoureux capped the scoring frenzy with a power-play goal at 9:14.
“We had an OK first period,” said UConn coach Bruce Marshall. “It was 0-0 going into the second period, we’re playing a team that’s in the top of the league and has gone to three straight NCAA tournaments and it’s 0-0 after one; let’s go get revved up for the second period.”
Air Force’s special teams almost generated a fourth goal while short-handed. Sean Bertsch picked up the loose puck near center ice and streaked down the left wing, but his blast ricocheted off the cross bar and away from the exposed net.
“A big part of our slump is how good defensively the teams that we played recently are,” Serratore said. “Holy Cross is a good defensive team and we’re playing them on the road. Then we come into UConn and they’re a well coached defensive team.”
With a tick over two minutes showing in the third, Connecticut pulled Larson and was able to keep the puck in their offensive zone, peppering shots on Andrew Volkening, finally connecting when Gerke blasted a shot from the right faceoff circle at 19:17. Volkening finished the night with 21 saves, while Larson had 35.
“Andrew quietly played a very good game,” Serratore said. “We let him down at the end; we had three faceoffs in the defensive zone and we didn’t win one of them. But the bottom line is we got three-of-four points this weekend on the road. We’re never going to apologize for going on the road for four games and going 2-0-2.”