Despite being outshot, 8-1, to start the game, the Air Force Fighting Falcons prevailed and shut out the RIT Tigers, 2-0, Friday night at Cadet Ice Arena.
â€œRIT competed extremely hard; they came in here to knock us off and I thought, to be honest with you, they out-competed us, they won the lionâ€™s share of the stick battles, the one-on-one battles and they probably deserved a better fate,â€ said Air Force coach Frank Serratore. â€œWhen it was all said and done, you get right down to it, our goalie was better than their goalie. Thatâ€™s my opinion.â€
The Tigers dominated the first period, outshooting the Falcons, 8-1. However, RIT could not solve goaltender Andrew Volkening (30 saves).
After a â€œmeeting of the minds,â€ Air Force came out rejuvenated in the middle frame, turning the tables and holding an 18-7 shot advantage while gaining a 1-0 lead.
â€œWe tightened up some of the details in our game,â€ said Falconsâ€™ captain Mike Philippich. â€œWe played bad, came out of the period 0-0 â€” we wanted to be even or ahead when we came out of the first so we accomplished the goal, but not in an ideal fashion.â€
Despite Air Forceâ€™s turnaround, the Tigers had the two best chances to get the first goal when they clanged two shots off the posts â€” one at the 5:40 mark and the other at 15:09.
However, Philippich put the Falcons on the board with 4:39 remaining in the frame when he redirected a Greg Flynn power play shot from the point past Tiger netminder Jared Demichiel (22 saves).
â€œOur team has a lot of character,â€ said Volkening. â€œIf things are going wrong, weâ€™ve got guys that will turn things right around and we did that in the second period. We had 18 shots and coming back to league play, we definitely wanted to hit our stride again.â€
The Falcons went up 2-0 with 6:19 to play in the game when Josh Frider and Jacques Lamoureux came down on a two-on-one on Demichiel. Lamoureux got the outlet pass from Brent Olson and slid it across the slot to Frider who shot it past Demichiel into a virtually open net.
Tigers coach Wayne Wilson pulled his goalie with just under two minutes to play in the game, but could not get the puck past Volkening.
â€œI thought it was one of our better games,â€ said Wilson. â€œI liked our effort, I liked the way we played. Weâ€™ve got to bear down maybe a little bit more to get some goals; we hit a couple posts in the second [but] for the most part, I was happy with our play.
â€œBoth goalies had real strong games.â€
As mentioned previously, Serratore felt fortunate to be the victor in the game.
â€œWe didnâ€™t compete like we competed in the past; we got outshot here tonight (final shots were 30-24 RIT) and I canâ€™t remember the last time we were outshot at home,â€ he said. â€œThey came in, they were very determined [and] they were gritty.â€
The two teams finish up the two-game series Saturday night at Cadet Ice Arena. The puck drops at 7:05 pm MT.