Feb 8, 2013 10:46 PM by Jordan Mason
ERIE, Pa. - Freshman Max Hartner scored the first two goals of his career as Air Force came from behind for a 4-2 win over Mercyhurst in an Atlantic Hockey Association game Friday, Feb. 8, at the Mercyhurst Ice Center in Erie, Pa. Air Force improved to 12-10-6 overall and 10-6-4 and in third place in the AHA. Mercyhurst's four-game unbeaten streak ended as the Lakers fell to 14-11-2 overall and 12-7-1 in the league for second place, one point ahead of Air Force.
An even-strength goal and a power-play goal by the Lakers in the first period gave the home team a 2-0 lead. Daniel Bahntge scored his 12th of the season at the 7:00 mark of the first period. Ryan Misiak led a 2-on-1 rush down the left side and fed Bahntge in the center for the game's first goal. Mercyhurst took a 2-0 lead on the power play at the 13:28 mark. Daniel O'Donoghue skated the puck into the zone and left it for Matthew Zay on the left side. Zay's slap shot from just inside the top of the circle deflected off of goalie Jason Torf and into the net.
Air Force came back with three goals in the second period. Hartner scored his first career goal at the 2:43 mark of the second period. Dan Weissenhofer sent the puck behind the net to Jason Fabian. Hartner walked out from behind the net and his back-hand wrap-around went over the shoulder of goalie Max Strang. Ten minutes later, Hartner netted the second of his career on the rush. Hartner took the puck down the left side and fired a shot from the left circle that hit the shoulder of Strang, dropped over the top and slid into the net to tie the game at 12:43. Eric Artman and Mike Walsh assisted on the play. Air Force took a 3-2 lead at the 14:43 mark on the power play. Cole Gunner made a pass from the left circle to the front of the net and Scott Holm tipped it in for a 3-2 lead.
The Falcons clung to the one-goal lead until late in the third period. Mercyhurst pulled its goalie with 1:31 left in the third period in favor of the extra attacker. In the final 90 seconds, Falcon forward Ryan Timar blocked two shots and sent the puck out of the zone. With 30 seconds left, Tony Thomas forced the puck out of the zone and Timar sent the puck up ice to Fabian. Fabian's empty-net goal with 21 seconds remaining sealed the 4-2 win for Air Force.
Air Force outshot Mercyhurst, 34-21, in the game. The Falcons had a 17-4 advantage in the second period. Each team was 1-for-5 on the power play. Torf made 19 saves for the Falcons while Strang made 30 for the Lakers.
"I liked how we played in the first period, but we dropped a couple bombs and were down 2-0," head coach Frank Serratore said. "We took control of the game in the second period. How cool was that for Max Hartner? His first goals and he single-handedly brought us back from the dead. We didn't make many mistakes in the second and third periods tonight. Give our guys credit, they came from behind to win on the road against maybe the hottest team in the league. This was a great win and I'm so happy for our guys."
Air Force and Mercyhurst conclude the two-game series on Saturday, Feb. 9, at 7:05 p.m. ET in Erie, Pa.