Air Force falls to Canisius, 3-0, to split the series

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U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. Canisius freshman goalie Matt Ladd stopped all 39 shots he faced to lead the Golden Griffins to a 3-0 win over Air Force in an Atlantic Hockey Conference game, Saturday, Feb. 16, at the Cadet Ice Arena. The teams split the two-game series as Air Force remains tied with RIT for third place in the conference.

Canisius (10-18-3, 7-16-2 AHC) took the early lead on the power play. Cameron Heath’s point shot was redirected by Felix Chamberland in the slot at 5:23. Later in the period, Falcon freshman Kieran Durgan had a breakaway, but his initial shot was saved by Ladd. After the pad save, several players crashed the net and the puck went in. It was ruled no-goal on the ice and a video review confirmed contact with the goaltender.

Midway through the second period, the Falcons had an 18-4 shot advantage, but Ladd made several great saves, robbing both Matt Pulver and Kyle Haak at point-blank range.

Early in the third period, and on the power play. Evan Giesler collected a loose puck in the slot and his rebound looked headed for the open net. At the last second, Ladd dove back to his left and made a glove save. With 9:09 left in the third, a five-minute major was called on Falcon defenseman Zach Mirages and then a tripping penalty was called on Dan Bailey, giving the Griffs a full two-minute 5-on-3.

On the two-man advantage, Dylan McLaughlin’s shot from the center point at 12:16 gave Canisius a 2-0 lead. Air Force pulled the goalie in the final three minutes, but McLaughlin sealed the Griff victory with an empty-netter with 34 seconds left.

Air Force (14-12-4, 12-9-3 AHC) outshot Canisius, 39-20, in the game. The 39 shots tied a season high. Air Force was 0-for-4 on the power play while Canisius was 2-for-6. Billy Christopoulos made 17 saves for the Falcons.

“We played terrific for 51 minutes,” head coach Frank Serratore said. “Give their goalie credit, he played good. We lost our composure in the final nine minutes. We cheated ourselves out of nine minutes. I loved our competitive spirit, but we have to know when to take a log off the fire. Hopefully, we learn from this experience.”

Air Force travels to Mercyhurst for a two-game conference series, Feb. 22-23, in Erie, Pa.