Air Force beats Niagara, 7-4, for fourth straight win

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U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. – Seven different Falcons scored as Air Force beat Niagara, 7-4, in an Atlantic Hockey Association game Sunday, Oct. 27, at the Cadet Ice Arena. The Falcons extended their winning streak to four straight games, the longest since the 2011-12 season, as the team improved to 4-2-0 overall and 2-0-0 in the league. Niagara fell to 1-4-1 overall and 1-1-1 in the AHA.
Ryan Timar, Ben Carey, Chad Demers, Scott Holm, Jason Fabian, Cole Gunner and Johnny Hrabovsky all scored for the Falcons.
Less than four minutes into the game, Timar gave the Falcons a 1-0 lead when he put back a rebound of a Dan Weissenhofer shot. Ryan Dau also assisted on the play. Niagara then scored two goals in a span of 88 seconds. Patrick Conte put back a rebound of Kevin Ryan’s point shot to tie the game at 1-1 at 6:59. Niagara’s Matt Chartrain gave the Purple Eagles 2-0 lead at 8:27. Matt Williams gave Chartrain the puck in the Niagara end and Chartrain skated down the left side. His first shot was saved, but he collected the rebound and scored on a wrap-around. Air Force then scored three unanswered goals to take a 4-2 lead. Carey tied the game at 9:13 from George Michalke and Mike McDonald. McDonald chipped the puck out of danger and Michalke skated the length of the ice. His shot hit a defenseman, but Carey put in the rebound for his first of the season. Demers gave the Falcons a 3-2 lead at 14:42. Michalke took a shot from the left side that was saved, but the puck came loose out of goaltender Adrian Ignagni’s glove. Scott Holm and Alex Halloran poked the puck across to Demers who was open on the right side. Holm’s second of the season gave the Falcons a 4-2 lead on the power play at 17:04. Demers and Gunner passed the puck around the back of the net and fed Holm on the left side. Holm took the puck to the net from the left side and flipped it over Ignagni’s shoulder.
Niagara cut the Air Force lead to 4-3 at the 9:00 mark of the second period. Kevin Patterson’s shot from the right point deflected off the skate of Mike Conderman and into the net for his third of the season. Sam Alfieri also assisted on the play. The Falcons answered 40 seconds later in a short-handed situation. Ignagni went to make a pass from behind his own net, but missed the puck. Fabian took it away and scored for his second of season. His goal gave the Falcons a 5-3 lead.
Midway through the third period, back-to-back penalties were called on Falcons McKenzie and Demers and Niagara had 1:16 of a 5-on-3. Air Force blocked four shots, with Mike McDonald blocking two, as the Falcons did not allow a shot on the two-man advantage.
With just over two minutes left in the third period, Niagara pulled its goaltender for the extra skater. Kevin Patterson fired a shot from the point that was saved and Ryan Rashid put back the rebound at 2:09 to make the score 5-4. Shortly after the ensuing faceoff, Niagara pulled its goalie again, but this time Air Force found the empty-net. Jacob Musselman chipped the puck out of the zone and Demers sent the puck ahead to Gunner. His writer from the left circle gave the Falcons a 6-4 lead. With 19 seconds left, the Falcons went on the power play. Fabian won the faceoff in the offensive zone and freshman Johnny Hrabovsky scored his first career goal with 13 seconds remaining.
Air Force fired a season-high 44 shots while Niagara had 38. AFA was 2-for-4 on the power play while NU was 0-for-4. Jason Torf made 34 saves for the Falcons. Ignagni made 37 for the Purple Eagles.
“The biggest difference in the game was our goalie was better than theirs and our special teams were better,” head coach Frank Serratore said. “The turning point was when we killed the 5-on-3. Whenever you kill a 5-on-3, it can be demoralizing for one team and it can shift the momentum for us. That was a huge part of the game. We have not been a very dominant team at home the last couple years, but this group wants to change that. We are off to a good start with four straight wins at home.”
Air Force plays a pair of conference games on the road next weekend as the Falcons play at RIT on Friday, Nov. 1 and at Mercyhurst, Nov. 2..