Updated: March 13, 2014 at 9:15 pm
Air Force sophomore Ben Carey picked a good time to snap a 12-game scoring drought recently.
He and other Falcons will be counted on heavily to provide needed secondary scoring when AFA hosts No. 6 seed Niagara in a best-of-three Atlantic Hockey Association quarterfinals starting Friday at Cadet Ice Arena.
"We needed him to produce," coach Frank Serratore said of Carey's performance in the regular-season finale against Niagara two weeks ago. "He probably has the best package on the team with his puck handling, shooting and skill. We need to get more scoring besides the top line and more from our power play."
Carey recorded a career-high two goals in that 4-1 road win, which helped the Falcons develop more confidence in their secondary scoring. Their power play went through a 0-for-20 downturn before breaking through on Carey's first tally against Niagara (13-18-5, 11-11-5).
"It's nice to finally end that drought," the second-line center from Centennial (nine points, six goals) said. "You just have to play for the team first and the other things will come."
The Falcons' top line consists of juniors Cole Gunner (42 points, 28 assists), Chad Demers (39, 25 assists) and Scott Holm (27, 16 assists).
But there is a drop-off after those three with senior forward Jason Fabian (18, 10 assists) and senior defenseman Adam McKenzie (17, 10 assists) at the next level along with three at 15 points apiece. Two of them are injured junior defensemen Alex Halloran and Dan Weissenhofer, who are both probable to play this weekend.
"All four lines can score goals and we have gotten production from each line and throughout the lineup," Carey said.
It is just the second time the No. 3 seed Falcons (20-12-4, 15-9-3 AHA) have won 20 in the regular season and first since the 2008-09 team won 23 in the regular season and 28 overall, which included an NCAA Tournament win.
Facing them is Niagara, which has gone 10-7-4 since a 3-11-1 start. Junior Isaac Kohls (12 goals) and sophomore Hugo Turcotte (15 assists) lead the Purple Eagles with 24 points each. Rookie goalie Jackson Teichroeb has emerged as the starter with a 7-12-3 record and 2.66 goals-against mark and .909 saves percentage.
"We feel confident we will be better after this (bye) week off," said AFA senior goalie Jason Torf (12-7-4, 2.55 goals, .912 saves). "It allowed us to rest up and focus on what we need to do."