After 13 straight wins, No. 11 Air Force fell to No. 9 Denver, 4-1, in a non-conference college hockey game at a sold out Magness Arena in Denver, Colo. Air Force fell to 13-1 on the season while Denver improved to 9-5-1 overall.
Air Force was the last undefeated and untied team in the nation and has only trailed in two of the 14 games this season.
Falcon goaltender Andrew Volkening made 12 saves in the first period as the game was scoreless in the opening period. Denver opened the scoring in the second period with a power-play goal by Rhett Rakhshani. Jesse Martin and Joe Colborne assisted on the play as Volkening was down on the ice and Rakhshani shot into an open net on the right side of the crease.
Air Force out-shot DU, 18-9, in the second period, but Cheverie made all 18 stops including breakaway saves on shots by Fairchild, Frider and Olson.
The Falcons tied the score early in the third period on a goal by freshman defenseman Scott Mathis. Mathis kept the puck in the zone at the right point and fired a shot through traffic that beat Marc Cheverie high to the blocker side. Mathis’ second of the season was unassisted. However, just 30 seconds after the Falcons tied the game, Kyle Ostrow netted the gamewinner at the 3:01 mark. Air Force turned the puck over in its own that led to a flurry in front of the net. Volkening made the first three saves, but Ostrow put in the rebound for his fifth of the season. Three minutes later, Rakhshani scored a highlight-film goal for his second of the game. Tyler Bozak made a pass from the left point across the top of the crease and Rakhshani batted the puck out of the air, waist high, and into the net for a 3-1 DU lead.
Air Force pulled Volkening for an extra skater in the final two minutes and Brandon Vossberg scored an empty-netter to give Air Force its first loss of the season.
“Denver was really good tonight in the first period and I thought we were really good in the second period,” head coach Frank
Serratore said. “We weathered the storm in the first period and then they manufactured a goal in the second on the power play. The third period was good, but they were more opportunistic on their chances. The goal by Rakhshani was a sick, skilled goal. That was a tough one to swallow. I thought both teams played well and both goalies were really good.”
Air Force outshot Denver in the second and third period and 39-29 in the game. Denver was 1-for-4 on the power play while Air Force was 0-for-3. Cheverie made 38 saves for the Pioneers while Volkening made 25 for the Falcons.
“Nationally speaking, Frank and his program have developed great respect from everybody watching,” Denver coach George Gwozdecky said. “This game could have gone either way tonight and if it was a seven-game series, it would have come down to game seven. Air Force should be in the top five in the nation and I hope the polls show that on Monday. Air Force is one of the best teams in the nation and they have proven that every weekend this season.”
Air Force returns home to Atlantic Hockey Association action with a two-game series against RIT, the team that won the league regular season championship last season. The Falcons and Tigers play Friday-Saturday, Dec. 5-6, at 7:05 p.m. each night at the Cadet Ice Arena.