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Army hockey outlasts depleted No. 19 Air Force in series opener

November 3, 2017 Updated: November 3, 2017 at 10:48 pm
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photo - Air Force Falcons goalie Billy Christopoulos (44) center looks off after Army West Point Black Knights forward Michael Wilson (27) scores the third goal for the Black Knights at the Cadet Ice Arena at the U.S. Air Force Academy on Friday November 3, 2017 in Colorado Springs. The Air Force fell short 3-2.  (Photo by Dougal Brownlie, The Gazette).
Air Force Falcons goalie Billy Christopoulos (44) center looks off after Army West Point Black Knights forward Michael Wilson (27) scores the third goal for the Black Knights at the Cadet Ice Arena at the U.S. Air Force Academy on Friday November 3, 2017 in Colorado Springs. The Air Force fell short 3-2. (Photo by Dougal Brownlie, The Gazette). 

Army quickly responded to each of Air Force’s third-period equalizers and took a 3-2 win over the Falcons, who lost another key player to injury Friday night at Cadet Ice Arena.

Air Force’s Matt Serratore scored with 7:45 left in the third period to make it 2-2, but Michael Wilson added his second goal of the game less than a minute later, redirecting a pass behind Billy Christopoulos near the post on the power play.

“I liked the spirit that we played with, especially in the second and third period,” coach Frank Serratore said. “We played well enough to tie the game twice. We just couldn’t hold on.”

The Falcons came out flat in the first period and escaped down 1-0. Army’s Wilson came up the side and fired the puck top shelf past Christopoulos.

The Falcons pinned in the Black Knights during the second period and outshot them 11-3 with nothing to show for it.

Evan Giesler tied it up for Air Force 2:35 into the third period, waiting at the back door and putting the puck into an open net. Erik Baskin and Dylan Abood earned the assists.

But Army took the lead again 3:10 later when Dalton MacAfee’s power-play blast blew by Christopoulos. Air Force outshot Army 30-16, but the Black Knights made good on their chances.

“Their special teams were better than our special teams … and their goalie was better than our goalie,” coach Serratore said.

“We’ve got to be better on the penalty kill tomorrow,” Matt Serratore added.

Air Force, already missing centers Evan Feno and Tyler Ledford, lost Kyle Haak at the same position to a leg injury in the third period. Coach Serratore said the Falcons’ dynamic has changed as they’ve lost 11 of their 18 forwards to injury already.

“We’ve never played with a lot of these guys before,” he said. “We had three guys playing tonight that we didn’t expect to see until next year.”

The Falcons will shuffle their lineup and meet Army again Saturday night at 7:30.

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