A good goaltender can make up for spotty play elsewhere as Air Force was reminded Friday night during its 3-1 Atlantic Hockey victory over Mercyhurst at Erie, Pa.
The win was the fifth in a row for the Falcons (12-6-3, 9-3-1 AHC) and moved them into a tie with Army West Point atop the AHC standings with 19 points.
Freshman Trevor Stone scored twice, but the real showstopper was Shane Starrett. The sophomore made 30 saves for Air Force, which was outshot, 31-19.
“We weren’t ready to play tonight,” Falcons coach Frank Serratore told 1300 AM after the game. “Having won four straight maybe we started to feel a little too good about ourselves. They came out and punched us in the mouth early. It’s part of the evolution process with us becoming a team.”
The Lakers (8-11-1, 7-7-1) outshot the Falcons 11-4 to start the game, a fact that wasn’t lost on Serratore, himself a former goalie.
“This game could have been 3-0 at the end of the first,” he said. “But the one guy that was there for us for 60 minutes was Shane Starrett. We gave it to them pretty in the second, and the third was pretty even.
“But the difference in the game was No. 40.”
Starrett has been on a roll that has coincided with the Falcons’ surge, allowing just five goals over the past games. His 12-3-2 record includes 2.30 GAA and a .920 save percentage. His wins are tied for the fourth most among Division I goalies.
Stone, meanwhile, displayed a nose for the net in matching his season goal total going into the game.
The freshman deposited a rebound past Colin DeAugustine (16 saves) on a power play 1:36 into the second period. After Jordan Himley snapped home his team-high 10th goal to give AFA a 2-0 lead at 9:04, Stone was at it again. With 45 seconds left in the period, Brady Tomlak‘s seeing-eye pass found Stone at the bottom of the left circle, and Stone wasted no time giving Starrett and the Falcons all the cushion they would need.
Mercyhurst’s only goal came in the final three minutes on a power play.
Kyle Haak assisted on the first two Air Force goals, extending his team points lead to 19.