Matt Fairchild scored two goals and added an assist as Air Force defeated Army, 5-1, in an Atlantic Hockey Association game Friday, Jan. 23, at the Cadet Ice Arena. A sellout crowd of 3,241 watched the Falcons snap a three-game overall, home and conference losing streak. The crowd was the second-largest in school history and the second-largest of the season. It also marked the third straight sellout and the third crowd over 3,000 this season, both school records. The win also snapped a two-game losing streak to Army.
Air Force improved to 16-6-1 overall and 13-3-1 in the AHA. Army fell to 7-13-3 overall and 6-8-3 in the league. Air Force is two points behind first-place RIT in the league standings with 27 points.
A short-handed goal got the Falcons on the board early in the first period. Matt Fairchild gave the Falcons a 1-0 lead at the 3:00 mark. He collected a puck in the neutral zone, skated down the right side and flipped a backhander high, stick side. On the same power play, Army answered as Marcel Alvarez fired a shot from the center point that went through a screen and tied the game at 1-1 at 4:34. Eric Sefchik and Owen Meyer assisted on the play. The Falcons regained the lead at 12:55 of the first period on a flurry in front of the Army goal. Jacques Lamoureux scored his nation-best 19th of the season with assists from Brent Olson and Josh Frider.
The Falcons added two goals in the second period and also killed four penalties. AFA’s second short-handed goal of the game came from Scott Kozlak at 1:44 of the second period. Blake Page chipped a puck to Kozlak who skated down the left side and fired a shot from the top of the circle for a 3-1 lead. Five minutes later, Fairchild netted his second of the game from Brett Nylander. Fairchild skated down the left side and took a shot from the bottom of the circle that beat Jay Clark through the five-hole. After the goal, Clark, who was unbeaten in his last five starts, was pulled and senior Josh Kassel took over in goal.
Air Force added a little insurance in the third period as Derrick Burnett scored his fourth of the season. Fairchild took a wrap-around from Nylander and blazed through the neutral zone. He slid the puck to Burnett in the slot who went to his backhand and beat Kassel through the five-hole.
The Falcons outshot the Black Knights, 41-25, in the game and had a 32-13 advantage entering the third period. Army was 1-for-10 on the power play while Air Force was 0-for-8. Volkening made 24 saves for Air Force. Clark took the loss, allowing four goals on 21 shots. Kassel played the final 34 minutes and gave up one goal with 19 saves.
“I thought our forwards controlled the game with their energy,” head coach Frank Serratore said. “Our defensemen were not sharp and didn’t play with the same energy. Our penalty kill was good and we found a way to get it done. Volkening was fighting the puck for whatever reason, but he still only allowed one goal. You aren’t going to play a perfect game and it was not a picture of beauty. But it was what we wanted it to be. Our only goal entering the game was to outwork Army for three periods. Our defense needs to pick it up and be sharper tomorrow. We took some horrendous penalties. But when you work that hard, sometimes your brains doesn’t work as fast as your legs. We need to bring the same energy level tomorrow because we know that Army will be back and be tough to play against.”
Air Force and Army conclude the series on Saturday, Jan. 24, at the Cadet Ice Arena at 7:05 p.m. MT.