Air Force beats RIT, 4-3

By  | 

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. - Jason Torf made 28 saves to lead Air Force to a 4-3 win over RIT in an Atlantic Hockey Association game, Friday, Feb. 21, at the Cadet Ice Arena. Air Force improved to 19-10-4 overall and 14-7-3 in the AHA. RIT fell to 8-18-5 overall and 7-14-3 in the league. Air Force jumped into sole possession of third place in the conference with 31 points. RIT fell to 11th place with 17 points.

The Falcons opened the scoring just 61 seconds into the game on senior Ryan Timar's fourth of the season. Jason Fabian fed the right point and Jacob Musselman's shot was blocked, but he regained the puck and found Ryan Timar open for a one-timer from the slot. Late in the period, the Falcons took a 2-0 lead on the rush. Cole Gunner made a move around an RIT player and fed A.J. Reid on the wing. His fourth of the season, with a second assist from Adam McKenzie, came with 1:24 left in the first period. Shortly after the goal, a penalty was called on Air Force and RIT's power play lasted just 10 seconds. After winning the ensuing faceoff, Dan Schuler netted his 11th of the season from Mike Colavecchia and Nolan Descoteaux with 54 seconds left in the period.

RIT controlled the play for the first six minutes of the second period, outshooting the Falcons, 7-0. However, it was Air Force that scored the next goal of the game for a 3-1 lead. As the puck bounced around the RIT slot, a Tiger defenseman attempted to clear the puck but McKenzie intercepted the pass and scored with a wrister from the right circle. Late in the period, the Tigers scored their second power-play goal of the game as Adam Mitchell scored from Ben Lynch and Brad McGowan with 1:41 left in the second.

Air Force held on to the one-goal lead and killed two Tiger power-plays early in the third period. Late in the third, Scott Holm scored for a 4-2 Falcon lead with 4:04 left in the third. Johnny Hrabovsky collected a loose puck in the neutral zone and fed Holm on the right side. His wrister from the top of the right circle found the back of the net for his 11th of the season. In the final five minutes, RIT's Caleb Cameron and Dan Schuler both hit the pipe with wristers from the right side. With just over two minutes remaining, Air Force turned the puck over behind its own net and Ben Lynch scored from the slot with 2:04 left. RIT pulled its goalie in the final 1:12, but was not able to tie the game.

RIT outshot Air Force, 31-29, in the game. RIT was 2-for-5 on the power play while Air Force was 0-for-4. Mike Rotolo made 25 saves for the Tigers.

"We could not have played any worse and still won the game," head coach Frank Serratore said. "If we play like this in the playoffs, we will be scrambling big time and we will fall victim to ourselves. We got lucky. They hit two pipes late. They outshot us, they out-special teamed us and they won the key faceoffs. All we had on our side of the ledger was our goalie was better. We didn't deserve to win that game. RIT was the better team, but thankfully we had Jason Torf.".

Air Force and RIT conclude the two-game series on Saturday, Feb. 22, at 7:05 p.m. MT at the Cadet Ice Arena