No. 4 Minnesota blanks Air Force, 4-0

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – Minnesota goalie Adam Wilcox stopped all 18 Air Force shots as fourth-ranked Minnesota beat the Falcons, 4-0, in the Mariucci Classic, Saturday, Dec. 29, at Mariucci Arena in Minneapolis, Minn. Air Force fell to 5-8-4 overall while Minnesota improved to 12-3-3.

A bad bounce against the Falcons led to the only goal of the first period. At the 6:58 mark of the opening period, Gopher defenseman Jake Paranteau took a shot from the right point that bounced hard off the back wall. Erik Haula collected the puck behind the net and tried to center it. However, the puck hit off the skate of Falcon forward Jason Fabian and went into the net.

Minnesota took a 2-0 lead early in the second period. Christian Isackson dug the puck off the back wall and threw a pass out front. Ryan Reilly scored his first career goal with a one-timer from the slot at 5:34.

Air Force started the third period on the power play and had three shots on goal in the first 30 seconds. However, the Gophers killed the man-advantage. Later in the period, Minnesota scored two goals in a span of three minutes. Kyle Rau scored on the power play at 12:05 with a rebound of his own shot for a 3-0 lead. Nate Condon rounded out the scoring as he collected a loose puck and took a shot that deflected off of Jason Torf’s glove and trickled into the net.

Minnesota outshot Air Force, 33-18, in the game. AFA was 0-for-3 on the power play while Minnesota was 1-for-3. Torf made 29 saves for the Falcons.

“The most disappointing thing about this game is that we didn’t put a scare into them,” head coach Frank Serratore said. “After two periods, we put ourselves in a position to win the game or at least scare them. We were down 2-0 and we had the power play. We didn’t get it done on our power play and then our penalty kill didn’t get it done. We did have some things I liked in the game. I was impressed with our defense. They reacted very well to the speed and skill of the game.”

In the first game of the tournament, No. 1 ranked Boston College beat Alabama-Huntsville, 5-2. The tournament concludes on Sunday, Dec. 30, when Alabama-Huntsville faces Air Force at 4:05 p.m. CT and No. 1 Boston College plays No. 4 Minnesota at 7:05 p.m.