U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. Six different Falcons scored as Air Force defeated Bemidji State, 6-3, in a non-conference college hockey game Sunday, Dec. 30, at the Cadet Ice Arena. With the 3-3 tie last night, Air Force won the non-conference series.
Air Force (10-7-1) drew first blood as Marshall Bowery scored his first of the season. Brady Tomlak intercepted a pass in the slot and set up Bowery at 4:32. Later in the period, the Falcons took a 2-0 lead on the rush. Zach Mirageas chipped a puck off the wall in his own end and Jake Levin carried it down the right wing. Levin found Tomlak in the slot and the junior netted his third of the season at 17:30. BSU (8-9-3) capitalized on a Falcon turnover less than a minute later. Alex Ierullo forced a turnover at the Falcon blue line, skated in uncontested and scored his fourth of the season at 18:23.
Early in the second period, BSU tied the game at 2-2. Just 60 seconds into the second period, Ross Armour sprung the Beavers on a 2-on-1 and Aaron Miller set up Ethan Somoza for his second of the season. The Falcons regained the lead at 6:34 on the power play. Kieran Durgan won a faceoff in the offensive zone and Matt Koch sent the puck behind the net. Kyle Haak took a feed from Evan Giesler in the slot and scored his sixth of the season. Bemidji State tied the game just a couple minutes later on the power play. A shot from Justin Baudry went off the post that created chaos in front of the net. Miller scored from Charlie Combs and Adam Brady at 8:47 to tie the game. The goal ended a streak of 36 consecutive straight kills by the Falcons. Air Force went ahead once again as senior Dan Bailey scored his first of the season with a blast from the center point from Tomlak and Giesler.
Midway through the third period, the Falcons took a 5-3 lead. Shawn Knowlton sent the puck up the wall to Alex Mehnert at the left point. Mehnert threaded the needle to Joe Tyran on the back door and the junior scored his second of the series. With a two-goal lead, Billy Christopoulos had to make two big saves, one on a breakaway by Nick Cardelli and another on a 2-on-1 by Owen Sillinger. With under five minutes left, the Beavers pulled the goalie for the extra attacker. Air Force took advantage as Matt Pulver intercepted a pass in his own end, skated out to the red line and scored in the empty net with 2:40 remaining.
BSU outshot Air Force, 34-26, in the game. Air Force was 1-for-3 on the power play while BSU was 1-for-7. Christopoulos made 31 saves for the Falcons. Hank Johnson started in goal for the Beavers, allowing four goals and making seven saves in 32 minutes. He was replaced in the second period by Zach Driscoll, who stopped 13 of the 14 shots he faced.
“Really proud of the guys this weekend,” head coach Frank Serratore said. “Bemidji State has a really good program. There was a time, 12 or 15 years ago, that they used to handle us pretty good. They are even better now. Winning this series validates just how far we have come over that time.”
Air Force travels to Las Vegas for the second annual Ice Vegas Invitational, Jan. 4-5, at the T-Mobile Arena. The Falcons face St. Lawrence in the first game, Jan. 4, at 8:35 pm PT. Air Force will then meet either Western Michigan or UConn in game two.