By Dave Toller
Michael Mayra’s goal with 2:25 left in the third period gave Air Force a 3-2 win over Holy Cross in an Atlantic Hockey Association game Saturday at the Academy’s Cadet Ice Arena. A crowd of 3,421 extended AFA’s school-record sellout streak to eight consecutive games. The sellout was also the 11th of the season, setting an Academy record for all sports The crowd was the second largest in school history.
Air Force improved to 22-8-2 overall and 19-5-2 in the league. Holy Cross fell to 10-17-5 overall and 9-14-3 in the AHA. RIT and Army skated to a 1-1 overtime tie tonight, so Air Force and RIT are tied for first place in the league. The Falcons and Tigers meet in Rochester, N.Y. today and Saturday for the final-regular season series of the season. Each match begins at 7:05 p.m. ET.
Scott Mathis gave the Falcons a 1-0 lead 1:34 into the first period. Derrick Burnett and Matt Fairchild won a battle for the puck in the corner. Fairchild drove the net and then passed back to Mathis who scored his fourth of the season from the right circle. The Crusaders answered as Brodie Sheahan scored at the 4:04 mark on a pass from behind the net by Jay Silva. The Falcons regained the lead on the power play, ending a 0-for-16 slump on the man-advantage. Brent Olson fired a wrister from the top of the left circle as he beat Adam Roy high to the glove side. Defensemen Michael Mayra and Brad Sellers assisted on the play.
Holy Cross tied the game midway through the second period as Mark Znutas snapped a wrister through traffic and beat Andrew Volkening high, glove side. The score remained tied at 2-2 until the final minutes of the game. Fairchild blazed down the right side, went around a defenseman and took a shot that was saved. Defenseman Michael Mayra cleaned up the rebound for this third goal of the season and his first game-winner.
Air Force outshot Holy Cross, 33-26, in the game. The Falcons were 1-for-5 on the power play while Holy Cross was 0-for-6. AFA killed all 13 Crusader power plays in the series. Volkening made 24 saves for the Falcons while Roy had 30 for the Crusaders.
“They are a very difficult team to play against,” head coach Frank Serratore. “They block a lot of shots and you have to be competitively patient against a team like this. We just have to wait for that chink in the armor and I thought we did a pretty good job of that tonight. Volkening was outstanding tonight. With three seconds left, they get a shot through and he makes the save. We were atrocious on the faceoff dot this weekend. The things we have to work on the things that aren’t the things that show up on the score sheet, faceoffs and blocked shots. But, we found a way to get it done. Going into RIT is going to be tough. They are a good team, they are hot and that place will be rocking. It will be a great environment. Speaking of a great environment, thank you to all of our new Falcon fans and thank you to all of those who have been with us through the years. We have won six straight tight games at home and I attribute that a lot to our fans.”