Derrick Burnett scored two goals in the first period and Air Force held off a furious Army rally for a 3-2 win in an Atlantic Hockey Association game Saturday, Jan. 24, at the Cadet Ice Arena. The Falcons won on Friday, 5-1, to sweep the series for the first time since 2005.
Air Force improved to 17-6-1 overall and 14-3-1 in the AHA. The Falcons moved into a tie for first place with RIT. Army fell to 7-14-3 overall and 6-9-3 in the league.
Army drew first blood, but it was Air Force that quickly answered in the first period. With 3:52 left in the first, and two seconds left on an Army power play, Zach McKelvie fired a shot from the center point that gave Army its first lead of the series. Mike Hall and Bryant Skarda assisted on the play. The Falcons answered just eight seconds later as Derrick Burnett scored on the rush. On the ensuing faceoff, Matt Fairchild tipped the puck to Jeff Hajner who skated down the left side. His cross ice pass was right on the tape of Burnett who tied the game with a wrister that went high, glove side. Burnett’s second of the game, and third of the series, gave Air Force a 2-1 lead with just 69 seconds left in the first period. Air Force was killing a penalty when Burnett intercepted a pass at center ice. As Burnett skated down the left side, the penalty expired and the sophomore from Corona, Calif., ripped a slap shot high stick side.
The Falcons took a 3-1 lead early in the second period on a goal by Blake Page. Greg Flynn knocked down a clearing attempt by Army and took a shot that was deflected. Page batted the puck in for his fifth of the season.
Air Force held the 3-1 lead until late in the game. With 1:55 left in the third period, a penalty was called on Greg Burgdoerfer and Army pulled its goaltender for a two-man advantage. With 43 seconds left, Marcel Alvarez kept the puck in the zone and Scott Warner’s slap shot from the point got through traffic to make the score 3-2. Army kept the puck in the zone for the entire 43 seconds with the extra skater on the ice, but was not able to score.
The Falcons outshot Army, 25-19 in the game. Army was 2-for-5 on the power play while Air Force was 0-for-5 tonight and 0-for-13 in the series. Andrew Volkening made 17 saves while Josh Kassel made 22 for the Black Knights.
“I liked our energy again,” head coach Frank Serratore said. “I thought the better team won. We persevered after the first goal, but we took some bad penalties again. We just couldn’t break them. If we would have gotten the fourth goal it may have broken their spirits. We haven’t had our legs moving for a long, long time, but we did this weekend and that is certainly a positive. Our foundation is built on the legs of our forwards and they did a good job in the series. I thought we deserved to win both games, but we have some things to work on.”
Air Force is on the road next week as the Falcons travel to Erie, Pa., for a two-game AHA series with Mercyhurst, Jan. 30-31.