Sophomore Matt Fairchild scored his first career hat trick as Air Force defeated fourth-ranked Denver, 5-2, Friday, Jan. 18, at the Cadet Ice Arena.
The Falcons earned their first win over Denver since 1980, breaking a 19-game losing streak to the Pioneers. It was also the first time Air Force had ever defeated the Pioneers at home. Fourth-ranked Denver was the highest opponent Air Force has defeated since beating fourth-ranked Colorado College, 7-6 in overtime, at the Academy in 1976. Air Force is now 3-1-1 vs. ranked teams this season.
Air Force, ranked 22nd in the nation, improved to 12-7-4 overall. Denver fell to 17-6 on the season.
The Falcons never trailed in the game as freshman Derrick Burnett scored at 8:03 of the first period. Eric Ehn won a draw in the neutral zone and got the puck to Greg Flynn. Flynn gave it back to Ehn who started a 2-on-2 rush down the left wing. His pass through the slot was right on the tape of Burnett who scored his third of the season.
With five seconds left in the first period, Fairchild scored his first of the game, and his second short-handed goal in the last four games. Brent Olson was killing time with the puck deep in the Denver end. DU’s Rhett Rakhshani took the puck and then lost control of it in his own slot and Fairchild beat DU goalie Peter Mannino from in tight.
Midway through the second period, Josh Schaffer scored the eventual game-winner at the 11:03 mark on an odd-man rush. Josh Print started the rush down the left wing. He centered the puck to Mike Phillipich whose shot was saved by Mannino. Schaffer collected the loose puck just outside the top of the crease and scored his second of the season.
Four minutes later, Fairchild scored his second of the game. Olson made a centering pass from the corner and Fairchild again beat Maninno from right in front for a 4-0 lead. Jeff Hajner also assisted on the play. After the goal, DU pulled Mannino from the nets and put in freshman Marc Cheverie.
With 53 seconds left in the second period, the Pioneers got on the board. Tom May scored on a flurry in front of the Air Force goal to make the score 4-1.
At the 7:37 mark of the third, Falcons Brett Nylander and Scott Kozlak were each called for separate penalties and the Pioneers had two minutes of a 5-on-3 advantage and the Falcons killed the two-man advantage. DU got just one shot on net in two minutes on the Falcon penalty kill.
DU cut the AFA lead to 4-2 when Patrick Mullen scored at the 12:02 mark. Tom May made a pass from the boards and Mullen scored from right in front.
With just over five minutes remaining, DU pulled Cheverie from the net in favor of the extra skater. But it was the Falcons who capitalized when Fairchild netted his third of the game with 4:52 remaining from Hajner and Olson into the empty net.
DU outshot Air Force, 31-16, in the game. DU outshot AFA, 23-7, in the final 40 minutes. Denver was 0-for-5 on the power play while AFA was 0-for-3. Volkening made 29 saves in the game. Mannino gave up four goals on 13 shots in 35 minutes. Cheverie made two saves in 20 minutes.
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