Outshot and largely outplayed for two periods, Air Force flipped the script in the third period and knocked off No. 5 Boston College, 2-1, in the opening game of the Ice Breaker Tournament at Denver on Friday night.
Junior Ben Kucera scored a 5-on-3 power-play goal with 8:22 remaining for the winning margin.
Sophomore Matt Serratore evened things 6:17 into the third period when he took a pass from Phil Boje, walked in on the left circle and snapped the puck over a shoulder of BC freshman goalie Joe Woll.
The Eagles led 1-o after two periods thanks to a goal by Austin Cangelosi, who scored on a penalty shot. It was the only goal Shane Starrett allowed on the 38 shots he faced.
“I told the team if I had to give them a grade for the first two periods, it would have been about a C, but they aced the final,” coach Frank Serratore said. “I didn’t think we played very well in the first two periods and we were only down 1-0. We were much better in the third. We had 26 shots in the game and 13 came in the third.”
The Falcons seemed to gain some jump in their skates after Boje endured a scary looking hit from behind with 4:33 left in the second period. BC freshman Zach Walker was assessed a five-minute major and ejected.
“It fired us up,” Matt Serratore said. “We had an opportunity, and we didn’t let (the hit) get to us emotionally.”
So what did we learn about the Falcons?
- When they stick to their system, and even when they give up a lot of shots, they’re going to stay in most games. On Friday, they largely negated BC’s line rushes and pushed the Eagles to the outside. From there, sophomore Shane Starrett turned aside every shot he faced with the clock running. “We have the utmost confidence with Shane,” Matt Serratore said. “He gives us confidence to play free.”Added Kucera, “Our D played well. They were tight on their gaps. We knew they were big on line rushes and we were able to stop those.”
- The special teams are special. In addition to the power-play goal, they shut down a talented BC power play six times, including in the final three minutes. “We had good structure in our zone,” Frank Serratore said. “We were a pretty good penalty killing team last year. We only played three freshmen, so all of our penalty killers were experienced guys.”
- Experience counts. Despite having just three seniors, the Falcons iced deep junior and sophomore groups, and it showed against a BC team that dressed 14 underclassmen, including nine freshmen. “We’re a more experienced team than BC, we should be able to win the third period,” Serratore said.