Air Force holds off Niagara for 2-1 win in series finale

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U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. – Senior goalie Billy Christopoulos made 35 saves and freshman Kieran Durgan netted the game-winner in a 2-1 win over Niagara in an Atlantic Hockey Conference game, Friday, Oct. 26, at the Cadet Ice Arena. The teams split the two-game series.

After a scoreless first period, the Falcons drew first blood. Freshman defenseman Carter Ekberg sent a long outlet pass to Walker Sommer at the far blue line. Sommer skated down the left wing and scored with a wrister from just inside the top of the circle for a 1-0 lead at 2:09. Ekberg picked up his first career assist while Sommer netted his second career goal.

Late in the third period, the Falcons took a 2-0 lead. Niagara’s clear attempt from its own end, took a strange bounce off the glass, right into the slot. Durgan caught it in his hand, set it down and fired it five-hole for this third of the season with 5:20 left in the game. With just over five minutes left, Niagara pulled its goalie for the extra attacker. With 4:23 remaining, Zac Herrman fed Justin Kendall at the bottom of the right circle to cut the Falcon lead to 2-1 with 4:23 remaining.

Niagara (2-4 overall, 2-2 AHC) outshot the Falcons, 36-34. Air Force was 0-for-2 on the power play while Niagara was 0-for-3.

“This was just what the doctor ordered,” head coach Frank Serratore said. “We needed this one going into the Army series. We challenged our guys and they answered the bell. Not only did we play hard, but we played with great spirit as well. Our bench was electric tonight. Our compete-level was much better than last night.”

Air Force (2-4-0, 2-2-0 AHC) travels to Army West Point for a two-game conference series, Friday-Saturday, Nov. 2-3.