USAFA, Colo. –Air Force scored four unanswered goals in the third period for a 4-3 win over third-ranked Yale in a non-conference college hockey game Sunday, Nov. 14, in front of a sellout crowd at the Academy’s Cadet Ice Arena.
Air Force, 3-6 overall, handed Yale its first loss of the season after five straight wins. Yale came into the game as the nation’s top scoring team at just under six goals per game. The win ties as the highest ranked team Air Force has ever beaten (Colorado College and Michigan in 2009).
Trailing 3-0 early in the third period, Air Force finally got on the board with a power-play goal by Scott Mathis. John Kruse made a cross-ice pass to Mathis at the right point who fired a slap shot past Jeff Malcolm for his third of the season. The crowd went wild about four minutes later when Paul Weisgarber scored a short-handed goal at 9:51. Weisgarber won a faceoff in the Air Force end, skated the puck out of the zone and through the neutral zone. After he passed the puck off the boards, he sped around Yale defenseman Kevin Peel to regain the puck at the goal line. He sent a shot from below the goal line that hit the skate of the goaltender and went in to make the score 3-2. The Falcons tied the game with an even-strength goal by freshman Jason Fabian at 12:50. Brad Sellers made a long outlet pass to Fabian who sent the puck in to Tony Thomas. John Kruse’s shot was saved, but Fabian scored during a scramble in front of the net. The game-winner came at 16:08 on the power play. Fabian skated the puck around the net as Stephen Carew drifted in from the right point. Carew one-timed the short pass from Fabian that went under the left pad of Malcolm for a 4-3 lead with 3:49 remaining. With 1:30 left in the game, Bulldog Chris Cahill fired a wrister off the post and the Falcons held on to the 4-3 lead. Yale pulled its goaltender with 42 seconds left and Jason Torf made a save on a shot by Broc Little, who came into the game tied as the nation’s leading scorer. With 33 seconds left Weisgarber was trying to clear the zone when he was taken into the boards by Little, who was called for boarding. With Air Force on the power play, Malcolm went back off the ice for the Bulldogs, but Air Force won two faceoffs in the final 20 seconds to preserve the win.
Yale opened the scoring at the 5:17 mark of the first period with a goal by defenseman Jimmy Martin. Jeff Anderson won a faceoff in the offensive end and sent the puck back to Martin who fired a slap shot under the cross bar. The Bulldogs took a 2-0 lead at 18:48 on the power play on a well-designed play. Andrew Miller made a cross-ice pass to Chris Cahill in the left circle. Cahill quickly found Brian O’Neill on the backdoor for his sixth of the season.
Neither team scored in the second period, but both had a golden opportunity. Air Force had 52 seconds of a 5-on-3 but was unable to score, getting just one shot on goal. Then it was Yale’s turn for a two-man advantage as the Bulldogs had 54 seconds of 5-on-3 time. The Bulldogs had four shots on goal, but Torf made all the saves.
Freshman Jason Torf earned his first career win as he made a career high 34 saves. Malcolm made 25 saves for the Bulldogs. AFA was 2-for-10 on the power play while Yale was 1-for-4. Yale outshot Air Force, 37-29.
“This is one for the ages,” head coach Frank Serratore said. “The people who saw this one saw something special. We are a bunch of nobodies who are struggling right now and we came from being down 3-0 in the third to knock off Goliath. You don’t beat the third-ranked team in the nation without someone special in the net and Torf made some great saves for us tonight. It was all about momentum for us. They went up 3-0 and then we finally got the goal by Mathis and our bench came alive. We had some chances in the game, but we just couldn’t get a bounce before that goal. The crowd was really into it and they stuck with us tonight.”
Air Force returns to conference action as the Falcons hit the road for Buffalo, N.Y., next weekend. The Falcons play at Canisius, Friday, Nov. 19, at the Buffalo State Sports Arena. Then on Saturday, the Falcons play at Niagara in Niagara Falls, N.Y. The faceoff is at 7:05 p.m. EST for both games.
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