The Air Force Falcons dominated play for the first two periods of tonight’s game against the RIT Tigers, but the Tigers righted the ship in the third period and skated away with a 2-1 victory. Goaltender Louis Menard stopped 31 of 32 Air Force shots to keep his record on Saturday games spotless at 11-0.
“Air Force played very well throughout the whole game,” said RIT coach Wayne Wilson. “Louis [Menard] made some outstanding saves and kept us in the game.”
Air Force (13-14-5) came out with a jump from the opening face off in the first period, completely controlling play for the first seven minutes of the period. The Falcons outshot RIT by a 7-1 margin during that span, but were unable to get the puck past Tiger netminder Louis Menard.
The last two thirds of the period was played more evenly, but again the goaltenders came out on top, particularly when Air Force netminder Peter Foster pushed aside a scramble in front of his net with about three minutes remaining to keep the score 0-0 at the end of the opening stanza.
For the second period in a row, Air Force thoroughly controlled play as the second stanza opened. This time the effort paid dividends when the Falcons took the lead at the 6:50 mark. Air Force was working the puck down low when Matt Fairchild threw the puck towards the net from a tight angle. The puck bounced off the side of Menard’s right leg pad and deflected in to the back of the net to give the Falcons a 1-0 lead.
Air Force continued to dominate play through most of the remainder of the period, outshooting RIT by a wide 15-6 margin. The Tigers had several great chances to score during that span, but most of the shots were wristed high over the top of goaltender Peter Foster.
RIT (19-9-2) was able to get on the scoreboard very late in the period, taking advantage of a defensive mistake by the Falcons. Brennan Sarazin intercepted a bobbled clearing attempt near the Air Force blue line, and skated down the left side of the slot.
Sarazin tried a wrist shot that was blocked by a diving Falcon, but collected his own rebound and put a second wrist shot past Foster for the goal at 19:39.
With that goal, the Tigers were fortunate to end the period tied 1-1 with the Falcons.
Menard may a spectacular glove save at 3:46 of the third period while Air Force was on the power play to keep the game tied. Andrew Ramsey was parked on the left side of the crease, and swatted a puck out of midair that Menard stretched far to grab just before it crossed the goal line.
“I made a couple of good saves,” said RIT goaltender Louis Menard. “We got out shot pretty bad, but the guys came back strong.”
The Tigers took their first lead of the game less than four minutes later when skating on the power play. For the first time during the game, RIT was able to set up the extra attacker unit in the Falcons zone.
The goal came off a shot from the left point by Al Mazur that Simon Lambert deflected past the goaltender from near the top of the crease. This gave RIT a 2-1 lead at 7:33 of the third period.
The RIT goaltender was called on to make another big save at 16:58 when Frank Shiavone fed Eric Ehn on the far post, but Menard just barely got his left toe over to make the save.
Air Force’s goaltender wasn’t going to be shown up, though, as Peter Foster stoned RIT’s Matt Smith on a two-on-zero breakaway with just under two minutes to go to keep his team in the game. Falcons coach Frank Serratore called his timeout right after this save to setup one last push by his players.
The Falcons pulled Foster for the last 1:16 of the game, but the Tigers’ defense was able to hold on for the 2-1 victory.