COLORADO SPRINGS — In a crazy, back-and-forth game, Jacques Lamoureux scored with .3 seconds left on the clock to cap a three-goal third period as the Air Force Falcons twice rallied from a two-goal deficit to beat the Holy Cross Crusaders 7-6.
“The first thing that went my way was I couldn’t find a loaded gun to blow my brains out between the second and third period, so I had to come out for the third,” said Falcons coach Frank Serratore. “That’s what makes our game great isn’t it? Where else do you see things like that?”
Special teams were important for both teams in the first period. After the first seven minutes, little had been established by either team, until the Crusaders Adam Schmidt was called for slashing at 7:44. Air Force capitalized almost immediately when Kyle De Laurell was left alone in the crease. Tony Thomas threw the puck into the crease from behind the net, and De Laurell received the pass, took one step to his right and heat Derek Kump low glove side at 8:44.
The Falcons had a couple of quick chances to establish a two-goal lead, but Kump made two big saves. That proved pivotal when the Falcons took two back-to-back penalties, putting the Crusaders on a five-on-three power play. Barely had the second player been sent to the box before Holy Cross scored when Rob Linsmayer, stationed to Jason Torf’s right, deflected Mike Daly’s blast from the left point high past Torf at 14:19.
The quick goal meant the Crusaders still had 1:45 of power play time, and they capitalized at 15:21 when Jay Silvia, stationed in the crease, got his stick on Evan Zych’s shot from the point and deflected it five-hole.
The Crusaders used the momentum from the two power-play goals to nab another barely a minute later when Daly took a shot from the right point. Torf made the save, and the rebound went to the left boards, where Everett Sheen picked it up and dished it to Shayne Stockton, who let fly a slap shot from the left circle faceoff dot that beat Torf high stick side at 16:53.
Air Force got a power-play goal back on a carryover penalty from the first when Jason Fabian took a shot that Kump stopped, but De Laurell picked up the rebound in the crease and spun, firing the shot low glove side at 26 seconds of the second.
Barely two minutes later, the Falcons tied the score on a somewhat fluky goal. Paul Weisgarber took a shot that Kump stopped, and the rebound went behind the net. Derrick Burnett picked it up and backhanded it toward the net, and the puck hit Kump’s leg and went in at 2:09.
The back-and-forth play continued through the wild second period, with both teams opening it up. Lamoureux had a chance from the left circle with an open shooting lane, but Kump made the save. At 11:59, Holy Cross grabbed the lead back when Kyle Fletcher skated up the left side on a two-on-one with Linsmayer against Mike Walks. Instead of passing, Fletcher made a nice toe-drag move and stepped around Walsh. Before he could shoot, the puck rolled off Fletcher’s stick and came to Linsmayer at the right side of the crease, and he beat Torf glove side.
“We battled back in the second and pretty much shot ourselves in the foot,” said Lamoureux. “The last few years, we’ve gone into the break on a loss, and we didn’t want that to happen again.”
Shortly thereafter, Holy Cross forward J.P. Martignetti had a breakaway, but Torf stopped him. Buoyed by the save, Air Force struck back. Keeping the Crusader pinned in their zone for almost a minute, it started to look like a power play when Air Force forward Scott Mathis took a shot from the left point that beat a screened Kump at 14:33.
Air Force fans barely had time to cheer the goal before the Crusader seized the lead back when Andrew Cox skated the puck along the goal line from the right corner and got a shot that Torf stopped with his left pad. However, the rebound stayed in front, and Matt Gordon lifted it over Torf’s outstretched stick at 14:54.
With time ticking down in the period, Holy Cross seized the two-goal lead back on a goal Torf probably should have stopped. Stockton carried the puck low down the left side boards and threw a shot toward the net from near the goal line. It the stick of Air Force defenseman Stephen Carew at the right side of the crease and deflected off Torf’s right skate and in at 18:58. Torf was pulled at the end of the second and replaced with Stephen Caple.
“You have to flush it,” said Serratore. “You have to forget about what happened. You can’t play off those frustrations.”
Once again, a late period penalty cost the Crusaders. Early in the third, the Falcons drew within one with their third power-play goal of the game. Lamoureux got several whacks at a rebound from the left side of the crease, eventually beating Kump at 1:11.
“They did a very good job on their power play, so good for them,” said Crusaders coach Paul Pearl.
With momentum on their side, Air Force drew three straight power plays by pressuring the Crusaders in their zone. Though they did not capitalize, the constant penalty kill wore down Holy Cross, and it seemed it would only be a matter of time.
“Seven power plays in a row, are you kidding me?” said Pearl. “Absurd. I’ve never seen anything like it. We had five penalties in the third period. We got some goals, but we were short-handed the whole third period so we couldn’t play offense anymore. Plus you are using the same guys on the PK so it wears them out.”
At 15:55, De Laurell got the hat trick on a pretty setup play by George Michalke, who skated the puck down the left side and fed a pass through the crease to De Laurell at the far post, who tapped it into the open net, eliciting a stream of hats thrown onto the ice by fans.
That set the stage for Lamoureux’s dramatic game winner. On a scrum in the left corner, Burnett came up with the puck and threw it toward the net, where Lamoureux fought off a Crusaders’ defender and knocked the puck five-hole past Kump.
“More or less dump the puck in and desperation put the puck on net and I just took a swipe at the puck and it went through the goalie’s legs,” said Lamoureux. “We needed that, I needed that, and it was huge for our team.”
“That Holy Cross team is tough,” said Serratore. “There’s nothing easy about playing them. I told our guys, ‘They did not give us that game; we took it.’ They got some penalties in the third, but they got penalties because we were all over them. The dang shots were 18-3. A good lesson is you can’t allow the past to mentally beat you down and defeat you.”