SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - The time-honored hockey recipe for a late postseason run: Take goaltender. Apply heat.
Billy Christopoulos’ ascension was the main story before Air Force’s season began. A backup his first two years at Air Force, Christopoulos got his turn when athletic, flashy goaltender Shane Starrett turned pro last spring.
He was the main story again Friday night, turning in a 40-save performance against top-ranked St. Cloud State.
“That may be one of the better goalie performances I’ve seen in a long time,” St. Cloud head coach Bob Motzko said. “We did everything imaginable to get back in that game.
“This kid, he’s dialed in right now. And if he stays dialed in tomorrow, Air Force is moving on, I’m telling you. Someone’s got to score on this kid.”
St. Cloud State was upset in the regional semifinals for the second time in two tries. Some of the damage was self-inflicted, as it missed several wide-open nets. But in their final postgame, the Huskies made sure to credit Christopoulos.
“We battled tooth and nail and couldn’t solve the goalie,” St. Cloud State junior forward Robby Jackson said.
Air Force will play Minnesota-Duluth in the regional final at 7 p.m. Saturday. Duluth rallied to force overtime against Minnesota State-Mankato, then beat the Mavericks 3-2 in overtime.