Posted: Mar 14, 2010 5:19 AM
Updated: Mar 14, 2010 5:19 AM
USAFA, Colo. - Jacques Lamoureux scored a power-play goal with 1:25 left in the third period to lift Air Force to a 4-2 win over Army to win the best-of-three Atlantic Hockey Association quarterfinal series, Saturday at the Air Force Academy's Cadet Ice Arena. With the win, Air Force wins the best of three quarterfinal series and advances to the AHA Final Four in Rochester, N.Y. The third-seeded Falcons will face second-seeded Sacred Heart Friday, March 19, at the Blue Cross Arena.
In a fast-paced and extremely physical first period, both goaltenders turned away quality chances in the first 10 minutes. The game was scoreless until Bryant Skarda scored Army's first goal of the series with 2:05 left in the first. Owen Meyer took a pass from Mike Hull and skated down the slot. Skarda was wide open on the backdoor and one-timed the Meyer pass for a 1-0 lead.
Puck luck was on the side of Air Force midway through the second period as the Falcons tied the game. Matt Becker's check at his own blue line forced a turnover. Sean Bertsch picked it up and skated down the right side on a 2-on-1 with Blake Page on his wing. As Bertsch tried to make a pass to Page, the puck hit the stick of an Army defenseman and got past goaltender Jay Clark at the 8:46 mark. Army regained the lead on the power play when John Clark's point shot was redirected by Owen Meyer at 15:20. The Falcons again answered when Brandon Johnson scored the second goal of his career with 2:38 remaining in the second period. Tim Kirby skated the puck between the circles and the Black Knights converged on him. Paul Weisgarber poked the puck to a wide open Johnson at the hash marks who tied the game at 2-2.
The game remained tied until late in the third period. A diving stick save by Army's Clark on a shot by John Kruse with less than eight minutes left kept the game tied. Air Force then had two power plays but it was Army that had the best scoring chances. With six minutes left and Air Force on the power play, Owen Meyer had a short-handed partial breakaway, but Falcon defenseman Tim Kirby caught him from behind, dove on the ice and knocked the puck away. Shortly after, Andrew Volkening made a short-handed save on a shot by Army's leading goal scorer, Cody Omilusik. With 3:06 left in the third period, Army's Cody Ikkala was called for a high-stick penalty in the corner on Scott Kozlak. Halfway through the power play, Meyer had another short-handed breakaway and Volkening made the save. Air Force set up the power play with under 90 seconds left and Mike Walsh sent a puck down low from the left point. Derrick Burnett collected it behind the net and sent a pass to Lamoureux who was camped on the left post. Lamoureux netted his 21st goal of the season, his 12th power-play marker and team-leading fourth game-winner with 1:25 left.
Army pulled its goaltender with 1:17 remaining and had two shots on goal. However, Bertsch poked the puck behind the net and Burnett skated out to Volkening's left. The junior winger went coast-to-coast as he weaved his way through three Army players and scored an empty-net goal with 20 seconds left.
Volkening made 31 saves in the game while Clark made 30. Volkening stopped 60 of the 62 shot he faced in the series. AF was a-for-3 on the power play while AFA was 1-for-3. AFA outshot Army, 34-33, in the series.
"I am so emotionally spent," head coach Frank Serratore said. "This was a huge series. When two service academies play it is everything and we felt that. This was very special for us. This isn't the mighty Falcons of last year that beat Michigan. This is the scrappin', fightin' Falcons and these kids have so much heart and character. I was in awe of last year's team but this year's team, I respect every guy in that locker room. Army is a physical team and there is nothing easy about playing that team. I'm really happy this team gets the chance to go to Rochester. We are not a deep or old team, but we have guys who are making contributions who haven't played. The fighting and scraping Falcons is what we are."