Atlantic Hockey roundup: Holy Cross overcomes slow start to down Air Force

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WORCESTER, Mass. — Air Force took a running start and pushed through the hometown Holy Cross Crusaders for almost the entire first period Saturday night.  But all they could get out of it was a 1-0 lead and that wasn’t nearly enough as Holy Cross scored three unanswered goals and beat the Falcons 3-2 at the Hart Center at the Luth Athletic Complex.

Coming off a 2-2 tie Friday night and looking at statistics for the year, the two teams seemed to be perfectly matched for another good contest.  Air Force scored a quick goal and it seemed that they would have no trouble against their Atlantic Hockey rivals. They were winning every battle and the hosts were unable to respond in the early going.  Yet, that dominance did not lead to scoring in the opening period and that left the door open for a Crusader comeback.

“Coach (David) Bernard is not a screamer,” Holy Cross winger Mitch Collett said after the game, “but he had us ready to start the second.  He knows the x’s and o’ of this game better than any coach I have ever played for.”

The game gradually turned in Holy Cross’ favor as the second period continued.  Peter Crinella scored at 11:15 of the period and Collett followed up at 14:16.  Suddenly, it was Air Force that was playing from behind.

Holy Cross was providing a very tough defense — especially in the slot area — and Air Force goalie Shane Starrett appeared to be fighting the puck, dropping rebounds into the scoring areas.

In the other goal, Paul Berrafato ignored the first goal scored on him, a harmless lob from Kyle Haak at the right point that bounced off a defenders leg into the net.

“I didn’t let that bother me,” Berrafato  said.

Danny Lopez put his team ahead 3-1 at 7:50 of the third period and Air Force could only get a disputed goal at 19:47 in their last ditch effort to catch up with the hosts. For Lopez, it was the eleventh straight game in which he scored at least one point, the longest streak at Holy Cross in eleven years.

“To get three points on a weekend from a team as good as Air Force is a good achievement for any team,” coach Berard said in retrospect.  “Air Force plays a physical game and you have to earn everything when you play against them. After the first period I told my guys that we were only down 1-0 and we have been down 1-0 thirteen times so far this year and that hasn’t stopped us yet.”

Air Force coach Frank Serratore had plenty of compliments for the Holy Cross effort.  “They compete hard,” he said.  “They earned all of their chances tonight.  This is a smallish rink with tight corners and it is tough for an team to come in here and play their best. They are well coached and they compete hard.”

What about your team, Serratore was asked.  Are they well coached and do they compete hard?

“Well.” Serratore said with a smile.  “I don’t want to say about well coached, but I think I would like to see a little better pushback from our team than I did after the first period tonight.”

Other Atlantic Hockey results

Bentley 3, Canisius 3 (OT)

Bentley and Canisius scored three goals each in the first period and that was all the scoring for the night as the game ended in a 3-3 tie in Buffalo, N.Y. Max French had two goals for Bentley and Ryan Schmelzer had a goal and an assist for Canisius.

RIT 6, Niagara 2

RIT scored six unanswered goals, including two from Danny Smith, as they cruised past Niagara 6-2 in Niagara, N.Y.  Gabe Valenzuela had a goal and assist for the winners.

Robert Morris 2, Sacred Heart 1

Robert Morris avoided an upset after falling behind Sacred Heart 1-0 at the halfway point of the game Saturday afternoon in Neville Island, Pa.  Spencer Dorowicz tied the game at 16:32 of the second and leading scorer Brady Ferguson scored on a power play at 1:22 of the third for the victory.  Mitch Nylen scored his first goal of the year on the power play for Sacred Heart.

Brown 3, Army 1

Charlie Corcoran scored twice and Sam Lafferty had a goal and two  assists as Brown beat Army 3-1 at West Point.  Zach Evancho scored the lone goal for Army.

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