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DENVER, Colo. — While fans and sportswriters like to talk about momentum, it’s often an overrated concept. Look at the first-round game between Air Force and No. 5 Boston College in the Icebreaker Tournament in Denver Friday night as an example.
In the first period, Air Force had two breakaways, but shot wide. The Falcons then gave up a penalty-shot goal to Austin Cangelosi in the second period, and ended the second by failing to score on a five-minute power play.
Given all that, you would have thought BC had all the momentum for the final period, especially since the Eagles made the Frozen Four last season and were ranked No. 5 in the country heading into Friday’s game.
“At the end of the second period, guys were in there like we were down 5-0, I chewed them out,” said Air Force coach Frank Serratore. “I told them, ‘Guys, c’mon, we’re down by one goal. Win the third period and we win the game. Let’s show some enthusiasm.'”
“Something clicked and they came out with more fire. I told the boys that if the game was a class, I couldn’t have given them anything better than a ‘C’ for the beginning of the first semester and the midterm. Fortunately, they aced the final exam. We had 26 shots through the entire game, (but) 13 in the third.”
Air Force stormed out and scored twice, including a five-on-three power-play goal by Ben Kucera, upsetting the Eagles, 2-1. Air Force wasn’t intimidated by BC’s ranking. Tonight’s win was the eighth time in the last nine years the Falcons have beaten a top 10 opponent. The belief was always there, even when the team wasn’t getting chances.
“We knew we had to be a lot better,” said Kucera of regrouping in between periods. “Obviously we had some big chances that we missed in the first and second period. We knew we could play a way better game. Obviously we weren’t at our best. Even in the third we weren’t at our best. We knew we had a lot more to give. We knew that’s a team (BC) that’s very beatable.”
“I thought those were the two key things for us,” said Eagles coach Jerry York, of the two big plays in the second period. “I thought we were playing very well. We capitalized on the penalty shot, and then we had to kill the five-minute major, and I thought we did an excellent job there. It’s still early in the season and we are trying to form a system and a power play that can score goals. I would like to have gotten one of those five-on-threes. We have to get more people in front of the net. We went 0-for-6 on the power play.”
“It was almost like we were afraid to make mistakes; we were playing too cautiously,” said Serratore of the first two periods. “Now, we had numbers back and we defended and Shane made some saves and against their rush offense, we always had a third man, so that enabled us to hang in there. But other than a couple bounces we got that we shot pucks wide, we weren’t generating a whole lot, we weren’t getting a lot of offensive zone time.”
HOCKEY EAST RESULTS
Rensselaer at Maine
Mitchell Fossier scored a hat trick, including the game-winning goal at 7:32 of the first period, as the Black Bears defeated the visiting Rensselaer Engineers, 5-1. Maine goaltender Rob McGovern made 29 saves, giving up a single power-play goal at 2:47 of the third to lose the shutout bid.
Colorado College at Massachusetts
Ryan Wischow made 31 saves to earn a shutout of visiting Colorado College. Jonny Lazarus scored the game-winner on a power play at 11:03 of the second. Wischow’s goaltending kept CC 0-for-11 on the power play.
Northeastern at Quinnipiac
Nolan Stevens scored an extra-attacker goal with 53 seconds left in the game as No. 15 Northeastern rallied twice from a one-goal deficit to tie No. 2 Quinnipiac, 2-2. Lincoln Griffin scored Northeastern’s other goal on a power play in the second. Quinnipiac goalie Ryan Ruck made 28 saves.
Miami at Providence
Brian Pinho scored the game-winner at 13:53 of the third period while the Friars were short-handed as No. 10 Providence edged Miami, 4-3. The goal came barely three minutes after Miami’s Grant Hutton scored on a power play to tie it. Josh Wilkins ass sited on both Friars’ goals in the second period.
Alabama-Huntsville at Connecticut
Rob Nichols made 21 saves in a 6-0 shutout win for Connecticut over Alabama-Huntsville. Tage Thompson and Evan Richardson each scored twice for UConn, and Thompson also chipped in two assists in the first period sandwiched around his first goal, getting three points in the first and four on the night.
Minnesota-Duluth at Massachusetts-Lowell
No. 6 Minnesota-Duluth scored twice in the third period, including a goal by Kyle Osterburg with six and a half minutes left in the game, to rally to a 4-4 draw with No. 8 Mass.-Lowell on the road after trailing 4-1 in the second. Osterberg also assisted on the goal at 18:16 of the second by Karson Kuhlman that sparked the rally. Joe Gambardella scored twice for Lowell and added an assist, while C.J. Smith had three assists for Lowell, whose goaltender, Christoffer Hernberg, finished with 39 saves.
Vermont at Clarkson
Brian Bowen’s power-play goal at 5:11 of the third broke open a 1-1 tie and sparked an offensive explosion from Vermont, which beat Clarkson, 5-2. Travis Blanleil had scored the game-winner at 8:42 of the third, and also assisted on the first goal. Vermont goaltender Mike Santaguida made 35 saves.