Wayne State freshman Derek MacKay scored his first career hat trick to lead the Warriors to a 4-3 win over Air Force Saturday at the Great Lakes Sports City Arena.
Air Force made the game interesting in the closing minutes as the Falcons pulled the goaltender with 1:26 remaining and then went on a power play. The Falcons had a 5-on-3 advantage for the final 34 seconds but never got set up in an effort to tie the game.
The Falcons again fell behind early as MacKay scored the first two goals of the game in the first period. His first came at 8:23 from Dustin Kingston on a centering pass from the corner. His second was a power-play goal with 1:54 remaining that beat freshman goalie David Goodley on the short side.
Wayne State took a 3-0 lead with a shorthanded goal just 1:01 into the second period. Air Force opened the second period with 1:27 remaining on a power play, but Billy Collins scored his second shorthander in as many nights for a 3-0 advantage.
Air Force got on the board late in the second period as freshman Carson Strang scored his sixth goal of the season. Strang took a shot that missed the net, but he collected the loose puck behind the cage and beat David Guerrera with a wraparound shot. Matt Bader and Tom Starkey also assisted on the play.
The Warriors answered two minutes later as MacKay completed his hat trick with 1:03 remaining in the second. He scored on a wrist shot from the faceoff dot as a power play was beginning.
Trailing 4-1, Air Force rallied for two goals late in the third period. A blue-collar effort led to goals by Justin Hamilton and Mike Knaeble to make the score 4-3 with 4:53 remaining. Hamilton scored on a power play from Shane Saum and Scott Zwiers on a flurry in front of the net. Knaeble netted his first career goal on a nice centering pass from Kyle Fransdal from behind the net.
Air Force continued to pressure the Warriors late in the period. With 1:26 remaining, Air Force pulled its goaltender in favor of an extra skater. After a penalty on Dustin Kingston, the Falcons had a 5-on-3 advantage, but never got set up in the offensive end.
“Our guys worked so hard again tonight,” said Air Force head coach Frank Serratore. “Justin Hamilton is an absolute warrior. He refused to give up and was a major factor in this game. Even though we haven’t had many victories, this is a very tight-knit and focused team and they deserve something good to happen to them.”
Air Force outshot the Warriors in every period and 35-26 for the game. The Falcons were 1-for-5 on the power play while WSU was 2-for-5. Goodley, making just the second conference and road start of his career, stopped 22 shots while allowing four goals. Guerrera stopped 32 of the 35 shots he faced.