Air Force clinched home ice with 4-2 win over Holy Cross

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U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. Air Force came from behind to earn a 4-2 win over Holy Cross in an Atlantic Hockey Conference game Saturday, March 2, on senior night at the Cadet Ice Arena. With the win, Air Force clinched home ice in the quarterfinals and will be the third-seed in the AHC Tournament, March 15-17, at Cadet Ice Arena. Tickets are on sale now.

Air Force (16-13-5 overall, 14-10-4 AHC) dominated play in the first period, but it was Holy Cross that took the early lead. Crusader defenseman Spencer Trapp had the puck on the boards and slid it through the slot to the far post while falling down. Logan Ferguson scored his fifth of the season on the backdoor at 2:30 of the opening period. Air Force had a 12-4 shot advantage in the first period, but the Crusaders had the early lead.

The Falcons scored two goals in a span of 2:50 in the second period to take the lead. The Falcons tied the game in a 4-on-4 situation. Matt Koch gave the puck to Walker Sommer in the Falcon end and the sophomore went coast-to-coast for his eighth of the season at 5:09. Less than three minutes later, the Falcons took a 2-1 lead on the power play. Evan Giesler gave the puck to Dan Bailey who fed Matt Koch at the center point. Koch's wrister was his fourth goal of the season at 7:59. However, Holy Cross rallied quickly to tie the game. Jay Mackie ripped a slap shot from the right circle at 9:33 to tie the game at 2-2.

Midway through the third period, the Falcons re-gained the lead. Erich Jaeger made a pass from the goal line and Joe Tyran whistled a one-timer from the left circle at 10:31. Tyran's third of the season gave the Falcons a 3-2 lead. Brady Tomlak gave the Falcons a 4-2 lead at 18:25. Giesler chipped a puck to Matt Pulver in the Air Force end and the junior skated the puck into the Crusader end and behind the net. Pulver set up Tomlak in the slot for his eighth of the season.

Holy Cross (10-19-5, 10-14-4 AHC) outshot Air Force, 27-24, in the game. Air Force was 1-for-5 on the power play while Holy Cross was 0-for-6. Billy Christopoulos made 25 saves for the Falcons while Tommy Nixon made 20 for the Crusaders.

"Big win," head coach Frank Serratore said. "This is just what the doctor ordered. Getting that No. 3 seed gives us some time to rest up and we will get a team in the quarterfinals that had to play the week before. We had to find a way to win this game. We certainly did not want to go into the playoffs leaking oil. Our fourth line scored the game-winning goal and they gave us momentum all weekend. They played big, strong and fast the whole series."

Air Force has a bye the weekend of March 8-10 and will host a best-of-three quarterfinal series, March 15-17, at Cadet Ice Arena. Air Force's opponent will be determined by the results of the first-round games, March 8-10.