Jeff Hajner and Matt Fairchild each scored two goals as 12th-ranked Air Force beat Sacred Heart, 8-1, Friday night in an Atlantic Hockey Association game in front of a school-record crowd of 3,535 at the Cadet Ice Arena.
With the win, Air Force remains the only undefeated, untied team in the nation and moved to 11-0 overall and 9-0 in the AHA. Air Force is in first place with 18 conference points. Canisius is in second place with nine points. Sacred Heart fell to 2-7-2 overall and 2-5-2 in the league. The Falcons extended their school-record winning streak to 11 games and their home winning streak to eight games.
All four of Air Force’s lines scored for the fourth time in the last five games and 13 different players had points. Goaltender Andrew Volkening stopped 18 of the 19 shots he faced.
Air Force killed two SHU power plays in the first five minutes of the game and then the Falcons peppered SHU goalie Stefan Drew with shots but were unable to light the lamp. Then, with 1:09 left in the period, Hajner scored on the power play with a one-timer from the top of the right circle from Michael Mayra and Scott Mathis. The Falcons scored the first three goals of the second period. Hajner netted the eventual game-winner at the 4:58 mark from Fairchild. Fairchild poked the puck away from two Pioneers at the blueline and fed Hajner who skated in uncontested on Drew. Four minutes later, the Falcons took a 3-0 lead as Brent Olson scored from Josh Frider and Greg Flynn. Frider split two defenseman at the blueline and found Olson who scored his third of the season.
The key point in the game came midway through the second period with the Falcons holding a 3-0 lead and SHU on the power play. Brad Sellers and Derrick Burnett battled for the puck in the corner and Fairchild collected it and went coast to coast. He beat a Pioneer defender and scored his second short-handed goal of the season for a 4-0 advantage. SHU got on the board with 3:03 left in the period as Corey Laurysen scored from Nick Johnson and Adam DeJong. Laurysen’s shot from the right point rattled between the pads of Volkening and slowly slid behind the goaltender toward the goal line. Volkening reached behind him to swat the puck away with the stick and, instead, knocked the puck in the net.
AFA broke the game wide open in the third period with four goals in the first six minutes. Scott Kozlak scored on a two-on-two rush with a shot from the top of the left circle. Burnett and Fairchild assisted on the play at 2:06. Fairchild then scored his second of the game, and fifth of the season, on the power play at 4:43. Flynn took a slap shot from the point that was redirected in front by Fairchild. Kirby also assisted on the play. Michael Mayra scored his first of the season with a slap shot through traffic at the 6:30 mark on the power play. Burnett and Scott Mathis assisted. Ten seconds later, Sean Bertsch scored his second of the year on a line rush and a rebound right in front. Greg Burgdoerfer and Mathis assisted.
“This was a very impressive three-period performance tonight,” head coach Frank Serratore said. “Our two penalty kills early in the game were huge. The crowd and the energy in this building was amazing. There is no question that the energy fueled our team. The last two years we seemed to hit our stride in the stretch run. This year, we seem to be hitting our stride right now. The reason for these lopsided scores is our depth. We are getting production from all four of our lines and we need to in order to be successful.”
Air Force outshot Sacred Heart, 45-19, in the game. AFA was 3-for-7 on the power play while killing all seven of SHU’s man-advantages. In the last five games, Air Force has killed 30 of the last 31 opponent power plays. The only blemish was a 5-on-3 goal at Holy Cross last week. Drew made 21 saves before being pulled after the fourth goal. Olivier St. Onge played the final 30 minutes and allowed four goals on 20 shots.
Volkening made 18 saves in the game. In his last nine periods, Volkening has allowed just two goals. One was a 5-on-3 goal at Holy Cross and the other came tonight when the puck went off of his stick and in the net. Fairchild had four points for Air Force, two goals and two assists, while Hajner had three points.
The same two teams conclude the two-game league series Saturday, Nov. 22, at 7:35 p.m. MT at the Cadet Ice Arena.