US AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colonel Max Harper and Nate Horn each scored two goals when the Air Force earned a series sweep with a 5-1 win over Canisius, Saturday, February 20, at the Cadet Ice Arena. The victory came on senior night, as it was the last home game of the regular season for the eight members of the 2021 Class. The Air Force extended its winning streak to three consecutive games with the first sweep of the season.
Air Force (3-9-1 overall, 3-9-1 AHA) took the early lead in the power game. After Griff Grant Meyer was called up for tripping Air Force goalkeeper Zach LaRocque, the Falcons jumped on the board. Senior Shawn Knowlton directed a point shot from Willie Reim at 10:12, while Will Gavin also assisted on the play.
The Falcons scored two goals early in the second half for a 3-0 lead. Bennett Norlin forced a turnover in the neutral zone and Horn collected the loose puck and started a 2-to-1. Horn fed Harper with a 2-0 lead 56 seconds in the second period. After Brian Adams pulled a penalty, the Falcons struck again. Brandon Kochs’ shot was saved, but Harper hit the puck to Horn who scored at 5:15 from the lock. Canisius came on the board late in the second minute when Jami Virtanen scored with a blow from the right circle at 5:43 PM.
The Air Force held the two goal lead until late in the third. Norlin intercepted a Griffins pass at the blue line and led Horn into the slot. After making a forehand move, he stopped a backhander around goalkeeper Matt Ladd’s path for a 4-1 lead at 3:50 PM. With 2:47 to go, Air Force senior goalkeeper Erik Anderson replaced LaRocque in goal for his first collegiate appearance. After Anderson made the save, Canisius pulled the goalkeeper for the extra striker. Ty Pochipinski won a face-off in his own end and Harper sent the puck on ice. Harper then won the race along the half-boards, scoring his second of the race and third of the season with 1:06 remaining.
The Falcons outnumbered the Griffs, 40-22. The 40 shots are the second highest of the Falcons this season. Air Forces 79 shots in the series are season-high. AF went 2-for-4 on the power play while Canisius went 0-for-2. Ladd made 35 saves for the visitors while LaRocque made 21 saves.
If we start 0-9-1 and win our last three matches now, it all starts to come together at the right time for us, said head coach Frank Serratore. Being ahead in the third period is a situation in which we have not experienced much. You never know how a young group will handle the situation, but they did fine. I couldn’t be more proud of our boys and our coaches. We go to the play-offs feeling good about ourselves.
The Air Force is now free until the first round of the Atlantic Hockey playoffs, the weekend of March 5-7. The Air Force will be on its way, but the site and the opponent have yet to be announced.
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