By Dave Toller
Matt Fairchild scored the game-winning goal with one second left in overtime as Air Force swept RIT, 3-2, in an Atlantic Hockey Association game, Saturday night, Oct. 24, at the Cadet Ice Arena.
Air Force improved to 2-4 overall and 2-0 in the AHA and currently in first place in the league. RIT fell to 0-5 overall and 0-2 in the conference.
With less than two minutes left in overtime, Blake Page was cross-checked by RIT’s Taylor McReynolds, putting Air Force on the power play. With time running down, John Kruse fed Tim Kirby at the left point. Kirby skated to center ice and fired a shot off the back wall. The puck bounced in the crease and Fairchild put in the rebound as beat Jared DeMichiel inside the far post.
The game got off a slow start as neither team scored in the opening period and each team had just six shots on goal.
Both teams came out with more energy in the second period and Air Force scored the first goal of the game for the first time this season. A couple of freshmen teamed up for the goal. Danny Durham created a turnover in the neutral zone and fed John Kruse coming across the blue line. Kruse skated down the slot uncontested and beat Jared DeMichiel under the left pad at 6:27 of the second period. RIT answered with a power-play goal at 12:50. Andrew Favot took a shot from the right circle that was saved and Cameron Burt put back the rebound to tie the game.
RIT took a 2-1 lead at 5:50 of the third period when Al Mazur put in a rebound of an Andrew Favot shot. Air Force tied the game three minutes later when the freshman line again combined to score. Kyle De Laurell and Kruse battled for the puck in the corner and Kruse came out with it. His centering pass from behind the net was right on the tape of Durham who scored his second goal of the season to tie the game at 2-2.
In overtime, both team’s goaltenders came up big early. Just over a minute into overtime, Jacques Lamoureux forced a turnover and Stephen Carew fired a shot from point blank range that was saved. Later in the period, Volkening made two saves on quality scoring chances by Tyler Mazzei and McReynolds. Fairchild’s game-winner was his sixth game winner and it came just before the horn sounded.
RIT outshot Air Force, 30-26 in the game. RIT was 1-for-3 on the power play while AFA was 1-for-4 with the only goal being the game-winner from Fairchild. Volkening made 28 saves while DeMichiel had 23 for RIT.
“If you would have told me that we would sweep RIT and that our freshman line would score most of the goals, I would have laughed at you,” head coach Frank Serratore said. ” What we learned tonight is that we will be competitive in the league, but we also know that every night will be a slugfest.”
Air Force’s sellout streak of 11 consecutive games ended tonight as 2,210 fans nearly filled the 2,470-seat Cadet Ice Arena.
Air Force is on the road next weekend as the Falcons travel to Buffalo, N.Y. for a two-game league series against Canisius. The teams play on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 31-Nov. 1 at 3:05 p.m. ET each day.