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Freshman's goal is game-winner for Air Force hockey at Niagara

By: News services
January 26, 2018 Updated: January 26, 2018 at 9:46 pm
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Freshman's goal is game-winner for Air Force hockey at Niagara. (Photo by Dougal Brownlie, The Gazette).

NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. - Freshman Walker Sommer's first career goal was the game-winner in a 4-2 win over Niagara in an Atlantic Hockey Conference game Friday.

After a scoreless first period, the Falcons (12-11-3 overall, 7-9-2 AHC) scored twice in the second. Evan Giesler broke the scoreless tie at 4:08 on a breakaway. Just after a Falcon penalty expired, Giesler came off the Air Force bench and collected an errant Niagara pass in the neutral zone. Giesler netted his seventh of the season unassisted. Later in the period, the Falcons took a 2-0 lead on the forecheck. Sommer collected the puck behind the net and fed Ben Kucera in the slot. Kucera's shot bounced hard off the back boards, but Brady Tomlak tucked in the rebound at 12:55.

Midway through the third period, Niagara cut into the Falcon lead. Sean King put in a rebound of Tyler Hayes shot to make the score 2-1 at 8:52. Air Force answered just a couple of minutes later on the power play. Niagara tried to clear a puck from its own end, but Sommer was there to intercept the pass and net his first career goal from the slot at 11:49. After Air Force killed the first seven Niagara power plays, the Purple Eagles capitalized on their eighth. Billy Christopoulos saved a shot by Eric Cooley, but Noah Delmas put back the rebound at 12:29 to cut the Falcon lead to 3-2. With 2:24 left, Niagara pulled its goalie in favor of the extra skater. Kyle Haak forced a turnover in the neutral zone and skated toward the empty net. As he was pulled down, he slid the puck in to seal a 4-2 win.

"We had to overcome some self-inflicted adversity tonight," coach Frank Serratore said. "They manhandled us in our series at the academy in December, but we found a way tonight."

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