Rochester Institute of Technology has only been swept in Atlantic Hockey Association series twice since joining the league six years ago. Both of those sweeps have come at the hands of the Air Force Falcons at Cadet Ice Arena.
Air Force overcame a 1-0 deficit with four third-period goals to hand RIT a 4-2 loss Saturday night, outscoring the Tigers 7-2 in the two-game series. The victory left the Falcons (14-7-6, 12-4-5 AHA) alone atop the AHA ranks with 29 points and just six regular-season games remaining.
“I’m going to have to go see a heart specialist,” Air Force coach Frank Serratore said with a smile outside a boisterous Falcons locker room. “Whenever we play them, at the end of the game, it feels like you’ve been in a heavyweight fight. Both teams are good teams, proud teams and don’t like each other – but highly respect one another – and when you get that combination, you’re going to have some exciting games.”
Trailing 1-0, the Falcons struck 50 seconds into the third when Adam McKenzie took a Kyle De Laurell pass and scored. Just 1:11 later, Air Force found the net again, with Tim Kirby beating RIT goalie Shane Madolora.
Scott Mathis made it 3-1 on a power-play goal with 6:38 remaining, helping Air Force break an 0-for-18 slump with the extra-man advantage. The Tigers (15-10-3, 12-6-3) cut the lead to one after pulling Madolora when Greg Noyes scored with 1:03 left.
Casey Kleisinger hit an empty net for Air Force with 23 seconds to go and iced the game.
“These are two big wins for us — especially with everyone being so close in the standings — and these points for us are huge,” said Mathis, one of the Falcons’ co-captains. “We weren’t too concerned being down 1-0, and just said before we went out (in the third), ‘Boys, let’s win the period, and we’ll win the game.’”
RIT got its first goal late in the second when Mike Colavecchia beat Air Force goalie Jason Torf stick-side.
Both teams had quality scoring chances in the first period but neither could find the net. The Falcons held a slim 13-11 shot advantage in the first 20 minutes.