Six-game winless streak, gone. Trouble with the power play, fixed. Home ice playoff series, guaranteed.
Air Force’s hockey team broke out of a month-long funk in grand fashion. The Falcons scored five second-period goals — three on the power play — and earned an Atlantic Hockey Association home ice playoff series in the quarterfinals March 12 with a 6-3 win over Sacred Heart at Cadet Ice Arena in front of a sold-out crowd Friday night.
Scott Kozlak, Matt Fairchild, Tim Kirby and John Kruse scored in a 5:57 span to overcome a 1-0 first-period deficit and send the Falcons (13-14-6, 13-8-6 conference) past Sacred Heart (18-11-4, 16-8-3).
Air Force entered the final weekend of the regular season tied for fourth in the Atlantic Hockey Association with Canisius. The Falcons held the tiebreaker with Canisius. But Canisius lost 8-0 before the Falcons were done scoring in the second. That meant the Falcons just needed a win Friday or today. They didn’t put the win off.
The Falcons were 0-5-1 in their previous six games and entered with a power-play success rate of 9.8 percent in their previous nine. Maybe playing at home for the second time in seven games gave the Falcons some jump. They finished 3-for-3 on the power play and matched their season high in goals, all against a team that had lost just once in its past 18 games and outscored the Falcons 9-2 in their first two meetings.
With the Falcons up 4-2 and the Pioneers pressing, Kruse scored his second goal of the game with 9 seconds left in the second to squelch any thought of a Pioneers’ comeback.
Paul Weisgarber added a short-handed goal for the Falcons in the third, his second short-hander of the season.