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In a game where Holy Cross produced their highest goal output of the year and their first win against the Air Force since 2004, the Crusaders came into Cadet Ice Arena and stunned the Falcons, 6-4, in front of a sold out crowd.
Power-play goals were the name of the game as the teams combined for four (two each).
Surprisingly, Holy Crossâ€™s was able to beat Air Forceâ€™s top rated penalty kill twice, taking down the Atlantic Hockey league leader using a strong forecheck and an intensity that Air Force was unable to match.
â€œItâ€™s been there,â€ said Holy Cross head coach Paul Pearl referring to his teamâ€™s intensity. â€œWhat weâ€™ve been unable to do is score goals. I think what that does is excite our bench, and we havenâ€™t scored a lot since Christmas. To get those goals, they just play upon themselves and it keeps [us] going a little more and a little more.â€
Air Force put the first goal on the scoreboard with 7:30 remaining in the first period. Matt Fairchild did it himself as he carried the puck into the defensive zone, beat the remaining Crusader defender, and while attempting to drag the puck across the crease crashed into Holy Cross goaltender Thomas Tysowsky (32 saves) . Luckily for the Falcons, it had enough momentum as it slowly trickled into the net to give Air Force the lead.
Holy Cross answered back tying the game with 4:57 remaining. With Air Force on a delayed penalty, the Crusadersâ€™ Matt Clune received a pass at the point and rocketed a slap shot. The puck made it through traffic and past Andrew Volkening (30 saves) to make it 1-1.
The Cadets didnâ€™t wait long to take the lead back as Falcon star Jacques Lamoureux made it 2-1 seven seconds later. Lamoureux did it himself as he intercepted a pass in the Holy Cross zone, walked in untouched, and shelved the puck over the shoulder of Tysowsky.
While the first period was back and forth, Holy Cross owned the first half of the second, scoring three unanswered goals, twice on the power play.
Just a minute and a half into the period Air Forceâ€™s Jeff Hajner went off for a
slashing penalty. The Crusaders didnâ€™t wait long to score as five seconds into the power play, the game was tied. A face off win by Jordan Cyr back to the blue line and a slap shot by Mike Daly flew past Volkening evening it at two.
â€œI told the boys after the first period that the next goal is the big goal in this game,â€ said Air Force head coach Frank Serratore. â€œNot only did we give them the second goal but we gave them the next three goals. Itâ€™s tough to overcome that.â€
Holy Cross didnâ€™t stop there as they took the lead a little over two minutes later, again on the power play. When Matt Gordon took a shot from the left faceoff dot, Erik Vos was able to get a stick on the shot and deflected it by Volkening for a 3-2 lead.
â€œThe guys executed some shots that hit the net,â€ said Pearl. â€œ[We had] some good screensâ€¦they just executed well when they had the opportunity.â€
The Crusaders then scored their third consecutive goal with 9:34 left in the period; this time doing it even strength.
Rob Linsmayer carried the puck into the offensive zone and lazily threw the puck onto the net from just inside the blue line. It worked out well as Volkening was unable to control the shot and left a juicy rebound which was quickly slammed home by Rob Forshner, increasing their lead to two.
After all the Holy Cross scoring, Air Force had seen enough and finally answered back with a power play goal of their own.
When the Crusaders were called for too many men on the ice, the Falcons took advantage. Derrick Burnett took a pass in the slot from the corner and although he didnâ€™t get everything on his shot, he got enough, as the puck slipped through the legs of Tysowsky to cut the deficit to one.
Holy Cross didnâ€™t allow Air Force to grab the momentum as they kept the one goal lead going into the third period, and just over three minutes into the final frame, extended their lead back to two.
Linsmayer once again created the goal as he gained control of the puck behind the Air Force net. He carried it out and slipped a pass under Volkeningâ€™s outstretched goal stick and onto the tape of Luke Miller who put it away to make the score 5-3.
Then, with a little over 14 minutes remaining, Air Force had their best chance to get back into the game as two Holy Cross players were sent into the penalty box less than a minute a part, creating a 5-on-3 advantage.
The Cadets didnâ€™t let this advantage go to waste as Lamoureux scored his second of the game — and 15th of the year — making it 5-4 with his second goal of the game with 13:50 remaining. Lamoureux got the puck on the right faceoff dot, skated in, and fired a wrist shot past Tysowsky.
That would be all, however, as the Cadets were unable find the back of the net again and with 14 seconds remaining, the Crusaders ended the suspense with an empty net goal.
â€œThe better team won tonight,â€ said Serratore. â€œNot only were their players better than our players, their coaches did a better job preparing their team for this game than our coaches did. They out coached and out played us.â€
Air Force (11-9-5 overall, 11-5-5 in Atlantic Hockey) and Holy Cross (6-13-5, 5-9-4) are back in action on Saturday at Cadet Ice Arena. Game time is 7:05 p.m.