USAFA — Sacred Heart scored three unanswered goals in the second period and held off Air Force for a 5-2 win in an Atlantic Hockey Association game Saturday, Feb. 1, at the Cadet Ice Arena.
Air Force’s Max Harper gave the Falcons the early lead at 4:27 of the first period. Zach Mirageas carried the puck in the zone, feeding Shawn Knowlton in the circle. Harper took the puck behind the net and his wrap around shot went five-hole for his team-leading eighth goal of the season.
Sacred Heart (18-8-2, 15-6-1 AHA) tied the game on the power play at 5:56. Austin McIlmurray scored his fourth goal of the series and 18th of the season from Breaden Tuck and Mike Lee. SHU took its first lead of the game at 12:17 on a 3-on-1 rush. Alex Bates set up Marc Johnstone for a 2-1 lead. A major penalty was called on Air Force, giving the nation’s fifth-ranked power play a five-minute man-advantage. Air Force killed the power play with six blocked shots, five clears and four saves by Alex Schilling. However, less than a minute after the power play expired, the Pioneers scored for a 3-1 lead as Nick Boyagian cleaned up a rebound of his own shot with 1:15 left. Air Force answered after winning a faceoff in the offensive zone. Brandon Koch slid the puck to his defensive partner, Alex Mehnert. Mehnert’s shot was tipped in by Harper at the top of the crease with 50 seconds left in the period.
Boyagian’s second of the game gave the Pioneers a 4-2 lead at 10:29 of the third period as Evan Wisocky made the pass to the back door. With 2:51 remaining, Michael Gilroy’s point shot caromed off an Air Force defenseman and into the net for a 5-2 lead.
“I was pleased with our spirit and aggressiveness,” head coach Frank Serratore. “Those have to be the foundation of our game. We got ourselves in trouble again with penalties. We were better tonight on the kill. We have a young team and have to tidy some things up. I have a lot of respect for Sacred Heart. They have a good team.”
Air Force (8-14-4, 8-10-4 AHA) travels to Buffalo, N.Y., for a two-game league series at Canisius, Friday-Saturday, Feb. 7-8.