Falcons rally to gain a crucial point against AIC

Erik Baskin scored his team-high 12th goal Saturday. Photo courtesy of Russ Backer and Air Force Athletics

Brady Tomlak‘s goal early in the third period tied the score, and that’s how it remained as Air Force and American International played to a 2-2 draw in an Atlantic Hockey Conference game at Cadet Arena on Saturday.

Tomlak’s third goal of the season, which was reviewed because it went in and out of the net so quickly, came from the lower left circle on his off wing at 4:38.

Billy Christopoulos made 22 saves as the Falcons (14-11-4, 9-9-3 AHC) picked up points for the fourth game in a row and the seventh time in their past eight (6-1-1).

AIC (10-16-4, 9-12-4 AHC) got goals from Jared Pike and Hugo Reinhardt to rally from a 1-0 deficit.

The game left a bad taste in the mouth of Air Force coach Frank Serratore.

“I am the luckiest guy in the building tonight because we deserved to get our butts beat,” he said. “We were very fortunate to get three points in this series. We were better in the first period, but then AIC started to take over.”

Erik Baskin tied his career high with his 12th goal when he took a feed from Zack Mirageas, who had skated around the AIC goal before passing to Baskin just inside the left circle. Baskin wasted no time snapping the puck past Stefano Durante (25 saves) just 6:21 into the game.

That stood until Pike cashed in a feed from Joel Kocur with 4:13 left in the first period. Reinhardt struck on the power play with 6:09 to go in the second period.

The Falcons built their unbeaten streak against the Yellow Jackets to 13 games (11-0-2), with the ties coming in the second games of series at Cadet Arena in each of the past two seasons. AFA remained in eighth place in Atlantic Hockey but is just two points out of fifth place. It has played at least one fewer conference game than all of the teams above it except for Mercyhurst, which is three points ahead of the Falcons and in fourth place.

Air Force was 0 for 4 on the power play but killed off five of six penalties, making them 32 for its past 34 PKs.

“We took a step back tonight,” Serratore said. “Our penalty kill was good and Billy kept us in it again. Give AIC credit, they are a good team. But I am very, very, very disappointed with our composure late in the game and in overtime.”

Century club

Falcons senior Jonathan Kopacka played his 100th game on Saturday. It’s no small accomplishment given the defenseman has missed significant time in each of the past two seasons because of shoulder and ankle injuries.

Air Force’s three stars

  1. Brady Tomlak. The sophomore’s goal tied the game and earned a crucial point for the Falcons.
  2. Erik Baskin. He capitalized on a nice feed from Zack Mirageas to give AFA the early lead.
  3. Billy Christopoulos. The junior made 22 saves allowed two or fewer goals for the eighth time in the past nine games.

Coming up

The Falcons head to Bentley College next weekend for games Friday and Saturday, then stay in the Northeast to play a makeup game vs. Sacred Heart at Quinnipiac in Hamden, Conn., on Feb. 13.

Copyright First Line Editorial 2017-18

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