Air Force hockey sweeps Canisius with 5-1 win on senior night

Falcons win 3rd straight
Air Force hockey wins 5-1 over Canisius College at Cadet Ice Arena Saturday, Feb. 20
Air Force hockey wins 5-1 over Canisius College at Cadet Ice Arena Saturday, Feb. 20(United States Air Force Academy)
Published: Feb. 20, 2021 at 10:37 PM MST
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U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. –  Max Harper and Nate Horn each scored two goals as Air Force earned a series sweep with a 5-1 win over Canisius, Saturday, Feb. 20, at the Cadet Ice Arena. The win came on senior night as it was the final regular-season home game for the eight members of the Class of 2021. Air Force extended its winning streak to three straight games with its first sweep of the season.

Air Force (3-9-1 overall, 3-9-1 AHA) took the early lead on the power play. After Griff Grant Meyer was called for tripping Air Force goalie Zach LaRocque, the Falcons jumped on the board. Senior Shawn Knowlton redirected a point shot by Willie Reim at 10:12 as Will Gavin also assisted on the play.

The Falcons scored two goals early in the second period for a 3-0 advantage. Bennett Norlin forced a turnover in the neutral zone and Horn collected the loose puck, starting a 2-on-1. Horn fed Harper for a 2-0 lead 56 seconds into the second period. After Brian Adams drew a penalty, the Falcons struck again. Brandon Koch’s shot was saved, but Harper touched the puck to Horn who scored from the slot at 5:15. Canisius got on the board late in the second as Jami Virtanen scored with a slap shot from the right circle at 17:43.

Air Force held the two-goal lead until late in the third. Norlin intercepted a Griffins’ pass at the blue line and fed Horn in the slot. After making a forehand move, he tucked a backhander around the pad of goalie Matt Ladd for a 4-1 lead at 15:50. With 2:47 left, Air Force senior goalie Erik Anderson replaced LaRocque in goal, for his first collegiate appearance. After Anderson made a save, Canisius pulled the goalie for the extra attacker. Ty Pochipinski won a faceoff in his own end and Harper sent the puck up ice. Harper then won the race along the half-boards and netted his second of the game and third of the season with 1:06 remaining.

The Falcons outshot the Griffs, 40-22. The 40 shots are the second most by the Falcons this season. Air Force’s 79 shots in the series are a season high. AF was 2-for-4 on the power play while Canisius was 0-for-2. Ladd made 35 saves for the visitors while LaRocque made 21 saves.

“For us to start out 0-9-1 and now win our last three games, it is all starting to come together for us at the right time,” head coach Frank Serratore said. “Having a lead in the third period is a situation we haven’t been in very much. You never know how a young group is going to manage the situation, but they did just fine. I couldn’t be more proud of our guys and our coaches.  We are going to the playoffs feeling pretty good about ourselves.”

Air Force is now off until the first round of the Atlantic Hockey playoffs, the weekend of March 5-7. Air Force will be on the road, but the site and opponent are yet to be announced.