Updated: January 25, 2013 at 12:00 am
Air Force’s special teams play proved decisive as the Falcons stifled the league’s last-place power play to scratch out a 2-0 home victory over Robert Morris.
“It was a dead-even game at even strength and both goalies played well,” Falcons coach Frank Serratore said Friday. “Special teams were the difference. We shut down their power play and managed to score on the power play for that all-important second goal.“
Falcons sophomore Chad Demers wristed the puck inside the near post to complete a 3-on-2 breakaway led by sophomore Cole Gunner during a Falcons’ power play midway through the third period for a 2-0 lead.
“Cole made a good, poised play,” Demers said. “He could have passed or shot but he waited for the defenseman to commit before he passed it to me. It was a pretty easy shot. I knew I just had to lift it over his (leg) pads.”
Air Force invigorated its penalty kill by being more aggressive with the initial puckhandler entering the zone after allowing three power-play goals to Sacred Heart last week.
The winless Pioneers came into that series at a miserable 7 percent with the man advantage. Robert Morris came into Friday’s game at 8.5 percent so Air Force knew it could not remain passive.
“We knew we needed to get a man on him right away and not let him move from side-to-side and make a play,” said Serratore, whose Falcons (10-9-5, 8-5-3 league) moved into a tie for second with Bentley in the Atlantic Hockey Association.
The Falcons’ penalty kill disrupted the Colonials to the point that Air Force possessed the puck more in the opposing zone during the Colonials’ first power play than RMU (12-8-2, 7-7-1). It did not get much better during the next three man advantages as it went 0-for-4.
“We did not get much accomplished tonight,” coach Derek Schooley said.
Air Force dominated the first period and took a 1-0 lead 1:55 into the game after senior Kyle De Laurell crashed the net and banged in a rebound.
A shot from the point caromed off a defender, sending the bouncing puck into Eric Levine’s chest pad, who could not control the shot.
Robert Morris controlled the second period but could not beat Torf, who credited his team’s defense for bailing him out after some rebounds. Torf made two big leg pad saves in the third en route to 30 stops and his ninth career shutout.
“You see a shot and say that’s in and suddenly his right flipper goes out and he makes the pad save,” Serratore said. “He finds a way to make big saves.”