Air Force goaltender Andrew Volkening made 28 saves and the Falcons killed all nine Colorado College power plays as the 11th-ranked Falcons defeated the third-ranked Tigers, 4-1, in front of a sellout crowd of 3,063 at the Cadet Ice Arena.
The Falcons remain the only undefeated and untied team in the nation, improving to 13-0-0 on the season. Colorado College fell to 8-4-3.
Three of Air Force’s lines scored in the game and the Falcons scored a power-play goal, a short-handed goal, a four-on-four goal and a five-on-five goal.
Air Force earned its first win over Colorado College since 1985, ending a 25-game losing streak and a 30-game winless skid to the Tigers. The win marked the highest ranked team ever defeated by the Falcons. The Falcons extended their overall winning streak to 13 games, the longest in the nation and the longest in school history. The home winning streak has now reached 10 games, the longest in school history vs. Division I teams. The Falcons’ home unbeaten streak is now 14 games, dating back to Jan. 12 of last season.
The Falcons opened the scoring midway through the first period on a rush by the Falcons’ fourth line. Sophomore center Sean Bertsch led the rush down the right side and took a shot that was saved by CC goaltender Richard Bachman. Freshman Paul Weisgarber followed up the rebound for his fourth of the season to give the Falcons a 1-0 lead at the 10:13 mark. Greg Flynn also assisted on the play.
Air Force scored three second period goals, despite having to kill four CC power plays. Josh Frider extended his scoring streak to 13 games with his ninth goal of the season 36 seconds into the second period. While skating four on four, Flynn took a shot from the point that was wide of the net and redirected by Frider at the left dot. Freshman Scott Mathis also assisted on the play. Three minutes later, the Falcons took a 3-0 lead on a short-handed goal by Mike Phillipich. The senior captain collected a loose puck in the neutral zone and skated down the right side. He sent a shot into the far corner, went behind the net to retrieve his own shot and threw the puck toward the front of the goal. The puck hit the skate of Bachman and went in the net at 3:30. With 2:16 left in the second period, Air Force took a 4-0 lead when Brett Nylander scored on the power play. His shot from the center point through traffic beat Bachman high over the glove side. Matt Fairchild and Derrick Burnett won the battle for the puck on the boards and fed Nylander at the right point. Nylander walked toward the center of the ice and scored his third of the season and his third in the last four games. After the goal, Bachman, an All-American last season, was pulled from game and senior Drew O’Connell came on in relief.
In the third period, Air Force had to kill off a five-minute CC power play midway through the period. While skating four-on-four, the Tigers only goal of the night came on a deflection off of a shin pad on the rush. Ryan Lowery led the rush down the right side. His centering pass hit the shin of Bill Sweatt and got past Andrew Volkening for the only goal allowed in the game.
Air Force killed all nine CC power plays and the Falcons have now killed 42 of the last 43 opponent power plays over the last seven games. The Falcons, who have the nation’s best power play unit, were 1-for-4 on the man-advantage. Bachman took the loss, allowing four goals on 17 shots in 38 minutes. O’Connell stopped all six shots he faced. Volkening improved to a perfect 13-0 on the season and stopped 28 of the 29 he faced. Colorado College outshot Air Force, 29-23, marking just the second time Air Force has been outshot all season.
“Our penalty kill was awesome and it had to be,” head coach Frank Serratore said. “It demoralized them. This was a great win and the way we had to do it made it even more special. I couldn’t be more proud of our guys. They never got flustered and did a wonderful job of overcoming the adversity. We are a much better team for winning the way we did. Our special teams and goaltending were awfully good. We have a pretty good team. We are strong in goal, we have an anchor on defense in Flynn, we have two legit Division I lines and two other lines that work very hard and are pretty darn good. Two of the big things on my bucket list were beating Colorado College and Denver and we have now accomplished both.”
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