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Air Force senior forward Trevor Stone (9) reaches for the puck after being knocked onto the ice by Trinity Western's Travis Verveda (77) during the Air Force Academy Falcons men's ice hockey exhibition game against the Trinity Western Spartans of Langley, British Columbia, Canada at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., on Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019. (Chancey Bush/ The Gazette)

Better, but not enough.

Luke Manning scored the first goal of his Air Force career late in the second period, but that didn’t give Air Force enough of a boost to get past Arizona State in a 5-2 loss Saturday night.

The weekend sweep dropped the Falcons to 0-4 heading into conference play, which at least doesn’t include any ranked teams.

“We thought we had them on the ropes after the second period and we’ve just got to find a way to finish,” forward Max Harper said.

Air Force hunkered down in the Sun Devils’ zone and rang one off the post before Manning scored. He sent a backhander through traffic and became the first of his freshman class to score, and the first Falcon to score in 1:19.12.

But Air Force turned the puck over beside its own net early in the third. Arizona State threw it around and Logan Jenuwine took his shot, which beat Zach LaRocque and provided a two-goal cushion.

The power play connected for the first time in four regular-season games when Harper chipped a Brady Tomlak feed past Evan DeBrouwer to make it 3-2. Harper has two of Air Force’s past three goals.

“Kind of got the monkey off my back against Notre Dame,” Harper said. “Just looking to keep it going.”

Josh Maniscalco one-timed a cross-ice feed on the power play to end the Falcons’ comeback hopes. An empty-netter provided the final score.

Maniscalco’s goal came after a too-many-men penalty.

“Did they beat us in that third period as much as we beat ourselves?” coach Frank Serratore posited.

Harper took a penalty a little over a minute into the game and Arizona State capitalized. LaRocque located the puck and put it out of harm’s way, but the Sun Devils weren’t deterred. The puck glanced off Demetrios Koumontzis’ foot and survived a review.

Air Force, which only managed seven shots through two periods the previous night, got its offense moving late in the first period. The Falcons maintained pressure and had several promising chances.

The power play was almost a liability before the third period, sapping positive momentum. The Falcons spent the first 30 seconds of a second-period man advantage chasing Arizona State (3-3) around behind LaRocque and were ultimately outshot 2-0.

The power play was 1 for 7 Saturday and 1 for 11 on the weekend.

James Sanchez put the Sun Devils up 2-0 early in the second period. LaRocque kept the game within reach with several saves in tight.

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