NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. - All four lines scored for Air Force as the Falcons defeated Niagara 5-3 on Saturday. The Falcons swept the two-game series and improved to 13-11-3 and 8-9-2 in the Atlantic Hockey Conference. Air Force has won four straight road games.
The first period started with four combined goals in the first 10 minutes. Niagara (11-15-2, 10-10-2 AHC) opened the scoring at 2:05 as Stanislav Dzakhov got behind the Air Force defense and scored on a breakaway. Air Force answered two minutes later. Dan Bailey's shot was saved and Ben Kucera put back the rebound for his third of the season at 4:10. The Falcons took a 2-1 lead at 7:54 when sophomore Joe Tyran scored his second of the season. Pierce Pluemer's shot was saved and Tyran cleaned it up to take the lead. Ninety seconds later, NU tied the game when Zach Mills put back a rebound of Dzakhov's shot at 9:26. The teams combined for 12 shots in the first nine minutes of the period and then had just three shots in the final 11 minutes.
"I liked our game tonight," coach Frank Serratore said. "They made a play early to score that first goal, but we answered. Our overall game was much better than last night."
The Falcons took a 3-2 lead just over two minutes into the second period on the rush. Trevor Stone gained the zone and fed Dan Bailey on the left wing. Bailey's centering pass was tipped in by Marshall Bowery who was coming down the slot. Bowery netted his fifth of the season and his fourth in the last four games. After Dan Bailey drew a slashing call on Niagara, Air Force had 1:16 of a 5-on-3 advantage. Air Force capitalized as Phil Boje's shot bounced hard off the back board and Matt Serratore tucked it in on the short side. His ninth of the season came at 11:00 for a 4-2 lead.
Late in the third period, Niagara cut the Falcon lead to a single goal when Derian Plouffe scored short-handed at 14:11. Niagara pulled its goalie with 2:56 left, but the Falcons were able to seal the win with an empty-netter. Matt Serratore carried the puck in the zone and gave it up to Erik Baskin who tallied his team-leading 11th of the season.
"They guys were dialed in and focused," Frank Serratore said. "I'm really proud of the guys. This was a good win. If you aspire to be a champion, you have to be able to come from behind and you have to be able to win on the road and we did both tonight."