U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. - UConn goalie Robby Nichols made 40 saves, including 21 in the third period, to lead the Huskies to a 5-3 win over Air Force, 5-3, in an Atlantic Hockey Association game, Friday, Jan. 31, at the Academy's Cadet Ice Arena. UConn improves to 13-7-4 overall and 11-4-3 for third place in the AHA. AFA lost its third straight game and fell to 14-9-4 overall and 9-6-3 for fourth place in the AHA.
In the first period, Air Force outshot UConn, 11-3, but neither team was able to score. However, in the second period, the teams combined for five goals.
Air Force opened the scoring just 2:42 into the second period when freshman Ryan Doucet scored his first career goal. Linemates Jason Fabian and Mitch Torrel assisted as Doucet walked out from behind the net and slid a backhander past the pad of Nichols. UConn then scored three goals in a span of 2:13 in the second period, with the first two coming on the power play. After a pair of penalties on Air Force, Joona Kunnas scored a 5-on-3 power-play goal at 7:25. His one-timer from the slot came from Brent Norris and Ryan Segalla. On the ensuing 5-on-4 power play, Billy Latta scored his 10th of the season from Brant Harris and Shawn Pauly. Harris pushed the puck to Latta in the left circle and his wrister gave the Huskies a 2-1 lead at 8:07. Just over a minute later, Sean Gaffney scored for a 3-1 UConn lead. Segalla and Tyler Bouchard started the rush and Gaffney scored on a rebound of his own shot from the slot at 9:38. After the goal, Air Force goaltender Chris Truehl was replaced by junior Paul Moberg. Air Force cut the UConn lead to 3-2 with 1:46 left in the period on Ben Persian's second goal of the season. Dan Weissenhofer intercepted a pass on the boards and, after beating two Huskies off the wall, skated around the net. Just as he was being taken down to the ice, he slid the puck out front to Persian who netted a goal for the second straight game.
Early in the third period, Segalla's long outlet pass sprung Patrick Kirtland in the neutral zone for a breakaway. Kirtland made a move around Moberg and scored his third of the season at 4:36 for a 5-3 UConn lead. Late in the period, Doucet drew a penalty and the Falcons' pulled Moberg in favor of the extra attacker and a 6-on-4 situation. Cole Gunner sent a shot through traffic that was saved and Scott Holm battled for the rebound. Holm's shot hit the skate of a UConn defenseman and went in with 2:57 remaining. Air Force continued with the extra attacker and had several chances that were either saved by Nichols or went wide of the net. With less than 20 seconds left, Pauly chipped the puck out from deep in the zone and Ryan Tyson found Harris alone in the neutral zone. Harris slid the puck into the empty net with 13 seconds left to make the final score 5-3.
Air Force outshot UConn, 43-20, in the game, including a 22-7 advantage in the third period. UConn was 2-for-3 on the power play while AFA was 1-for-3. Truehl started the game for Air Force allowed three goals on eight shots in 30 minutes. Moberg played the final 28 minutes and gave up one goal on 11 shots. Moberg took the loss in the game. Nichols made 40 saves for the Huskies.
"I feel bad for our guys tonight," head coach Frank Serratore said. "We weren't perfect tonight and UConn had a lot to do with that. We played with some intensity and our goals were all high-energy goals. We got out special-teamed and out-goaltended tonight. That is the bottom line. We had some chances tonight and their goalie made some really good saves."
Air Force and UConn conclude the two-game series on Saturday, Feb. 1, at 5:05 p.m. at Cadet Ice Arena.