Air Force squanders early lead in loss to Mercyhurst

Posted at 10:46 PM, Jan 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-09 00:46:50-05

ERIE, PA — Mercyhurst scored four goals in the third period, including two empty-netters, for a 5-2 win over Air Force in an Atlantic Hockey Association game, Friday, Jan. 8, at the Mercyhurst Ice Center in Erie, Pa.

Air Force (0-7-1, 0-7-1 AHA) sophomore defenseman Brandon Koch gave the Falcons the early lead with his first of the season at 2:51. Freshman Brian Adams drew a penalty on the play as he gained the zone. Fellow freshman Will Gavin also assisted on Koch’s wrister from the slot.

Sophomore Blake Bride gave the Falcons a 2-0 lead early in the second period with a short-handed goal. Marshall Bowery forced a turnover in the Air Force end and skated in for a shot. His shot was saved, but Bride put back the rebound for his first goal of the season and first shortie of his career. Three minutes later, the Lakers got on the board. After winning a faceoff in the offensive zone, Jonathan Bendorf scored to cut the Falcon lead to 2-1 at 5:28.

Mercyhurst (3-5-1, 2-2-1 AHA) tied the game early in the third period when Marko Reifenberger’s shot bounced off the back wall and Dante Sheriff scored on the rebound at 1:48. Mercyhurst defenseman Michael Bevilacqua scored the eventual game-winner at 6:18 with a shot from the goal line that went off of Falcon goalie Zach LaRocque and into the net. The Lakers clung to the one-goal lead until late in the period when the Falcons pulled LaRocque for the extra attacker. With 1:37 remaining, Reifenberger cleared a puck and Paul Maust tapped it into the empty net. In the final minute, Air Force pulled the goalie again, but the Lakers found the empty net as Gueorgui Feduolov scored from his own end with 15 seconds remaining.

Mercyhurst outshot Air Force, 37-13, in the game. The Lakers were 0-for-5 on the power play while the Falcons were 0-for-3. LaRocque made a career high 32 saves in the game. Hank Johnson made 11 for the Lakers.

Air Force and Mercyhurst conclude the two-game series on Saturday, Jan. 9, at 3:05 pm ET in Erie, Pa.