U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. – Air Force earned its first series sweep of the season with a 3-2 win over Niagara in an Atlantic Hockey Association game Saturday, Jan. 15, at the Cadet Ice Arena. The Falcons also earned their first win on a Saturday night after going 0-6-2 in the first eight Saturday games.
Air Force (7-11-2, 5-7-2 AHA) opened the scoring for the second straight night as junior Willie Reim netted his team-leading eighth of the season. His goal at 16:13, on the rush, was assisted by his linemates Andrew DeCarlo and Nate Horn. Niagara tied the game at 1-1 on Walker Sommer’s short-handed goal at 9:30.
The Falcons took a 2-1 lead in the second period on the power play. Jasper Lester drew a penalty giving the Falcons the advantage. Will Gavin controlled the puck on the half wall and fed Brandon Koch at the left point. Koch slid the puck across to Mitchell Digby who netted his third of the series and fourth of the season from the right point at 13:23. The Falcon power play struck again late in the second period after Austin Schwartz drew a penalty. Clayton Cosentino won a faceoff in the offensive zone and Digby sent the puck into the slot. Cosentino gathered the puck and his shot was saved but Horn put back the rebound. Horn’s fourth of the season gave the Falcons a 3-1 lead at 4:04.
Midway through the third period, Niagara scored on the rush as Lars Rodne was the trailer and scored with a one-timer at 12:55. Rodne’s goal cut the Falcon lead to 3-2. With 1:50 remaining and NU on the power play, the Purple Eagles pulled the goalie for a 6-on-4 advantage for 65 seconds. The Falcons blocked two shots and freshman goalie Guy Blessing made four saves to preserve the victory.
Air Force outshot Niagara, 28-20, in the game. The Falcons were 2-for-4 on the power play and killed all three NU power plays. Blessing made 18 saves for the Falcons. Michael Corson started for Niagara and made 16 saves. He left the game in the third period due to injury and Jake Sibell made eight saves.
“We were a lot better tonight,” head coach Frank Serratore said. “We managed the game much better. I think we took a step in the right direction tonight. Last night, we kind of avoided losing, but tonight we won. Even though it got chaotic at the end, we navigated our way through it and won the game. Now, the question is, can we take this on the road and find a way to get points.”
Air Force travels to Erie, Pa., for a two-game series against Mercyhurst, Jan. 21-22.