Canisius scored three goals in the second period and held on for a 4-2 win over 15th-ranked Air Force in an Atlantic Hockey Association game Saturday, Jan. 17, at the Cadet Ice Arena. The Griffs swept the two-game series.
Air Force fell to 15-6-1 overall and 12-3-1 in the AHA. For the first time all season, Air Force is not in first place in the AHA. The Falcons fell to two points behind RIT. Canisius improves to 9-8-4 overall and 7-6-2 in the league. The loss marked the first time Air Force has been swept all season.
Air Force drew first blood as Matt Fairchild scored his second goal of the weekend and seventh of the season at 10:46 of the first period. Derrick Burnett intercepted a pass in the Canisius end and his shot was saved by Andrew Loewen. However, Fairchild put back the rebound for a 1-0 lead.
Canisius struck early and often in the second period. Just 31 seconds into the period, the Griffs scored a 5-on-3 power-play goal. Cory Conacher put back a rebound of a Carl Hudson shot to tie the game. Midway through the period, Ryan Klusendorf scored his first of the season for a 2-1 Canisius lead. Hudson made a pass from the goal line on the right side through the goal mouth and Klusendorf beat Andrew Volkening. Then, with 31 seconds left in the second period, Jason Weeks scored short-handed. Dave Cianfrini blocked a shot and kicked the puck to Weeks in the high slot in the Air Force zone. Weeks skated the puck coast to coast and whistled a shot from the right dot past Volkening and just inside the far post, high stick side.
The Falcons cut the deficit to 3-2 early in the second period on a goal by Blake Page, his fourth of the season. Page took two shots that were turned away, but then created a turnover behind the net and beat Loewen with a wrap around effort at 3:12. The Falcons trailed by one goal with less than four minutes left when Page drew a penalty and the Falcons were on the power play. However, it lasted only 44 seconds as Vincent Scarsella took a short-handed shot that was saved by Volkening, but Greg Flynn was called for slashing, putting the teams at 4-on-4. Air Force pulled Volkening for the final 2:47, but it was Canisius that scored. Scarsella scored the empty-netter from Wes Love at 18:21.
Loewen made 46 saves in the game as Air Force out-shot Canisius, 48-25. Volkening made 21 for the Falcons. AFA entered the game with the No. 1 power-play unit in the nation, but was 0-for-6 in the game. The Griffs were 1-for-3.
“They have some good players and there are some very good teams in this league,” head coach Frank Serratore said. “There really is not much difference between No. 10 in the nation and No. 45 in the nation. Last night, we shot ourselves in the foot and had to overcome some adversity killing penalties. Tonight, the first two periods went up and down very well. We had more shots, but a lot of them came from the outside and their goalie saw them all the way. It wasn’t until Page scored in the third period did I think we took the game over. I really thought we were going to tie the game, but it wasn’t meant to be.”
Air Force hosts Army in a two-game AHA series, Friday-Saturday, Jan. 23-24, at 7:05 p.m. MT each night at the Cadet Ice Arena.