Feb 12, 2011 2:05 AM
USAFA, Colo. - Senior Scott Kozlak's goal with 1:16 left in the third period lifted Air Force to a 3-2 win over Niagara in an Atlantic Hockey Association game Friday at a sold out Cadet Ice Arena at the Air Force Academy. With the win, Air Force improved to 12-10-6 overall and 10-6-6 in the AHA. Niagara fell to 15-11-3 overall and 12-9-1 in the league. With the two points tonight, Air Force leap-frogged Niagara in the AHA standings and moved into third place, two points behind second-place Robert Morris.
The Falcon power play put Air Force on the board first as Derrick Burnett scored his seventh of the season at the 16:44 mark. Tim Kirby carried the puck into the zone and fed freshman Adam McKenzie at the point. McKenzie skated into the center of the ice and fired a shot wide of the net. Burnett snuck in on the weak side to give the Falcons a 1-0 lead.
The second period was all about the penalty kill as Air Force killed three Niagara penalties and the Purple Eagles killed two. Air Force had 1:32 of a 5-on-3 advantage, but was unable to score. With 14 seconds left in the second period, Matt Williams fired a slap shot from the left point. On its way through traffic, the puck deflected off the stick of Jacques Lamoureux and trickled through the legs of Jason Torf to tie the game. Patrick Divjak also assisted on the play.
Air Force quickly regained the lead as Sean Bertsch scored at the 3:58 mark. Tim Kirby's shot was saved and Bertsch put back the rebound for his second of the season. Kozlak also assisted on the play. Niagara tied the game two minutes later on a breakaway by Bryan Haczyk, who is tied as nation's leading goal scorer. The game remained tied until late in the third when Scott Mathis made a long outlet pass to Bertsch in the neutral zone. Bertsch drew three defensemen then fed Kozlak coming down the right wing. Kozlak's wrister from the right circle hit the far post and went in for his third of the year. Niagara pulled its goaltender in the final minute but was unable to score.
The Falcons outshot the Purple Eagles, 48-27 in the game, including a 23-8 advantage in the third period. Freshman Cody Campbell made 45 saves for Niagara while Torf made 25 saves in the game. AFA was 1-for-3 on the power play while Niagara was 0-for-3.
"Our focus every night is to get points," head coach Frank Serratore said. "We played a very good game tonight. In my opinion, we were the better team tonight. We never trailed in the game and every time they scored, we answered. I couldn't be happier with our performance. We needed to get off to a good start tonight and we did."
Air Force and Niagara conclude the two-game series Saturday at 7:05 p.m.