BRIDGEPORT, Conn. – Two second period goals by Air Force proved to be the difference as the Sacred Heart men's hockey team was defeated by the Falcons 5-2 at Webster Bank Arena Saturday afternoon.
Air Force (8-9-5, 6-5-3 AHA) got on the board 49 seconds into the game when Ryan Timar deflected in a Ben Carey shot past Sacred Heart (0-20-2, 0-14-2) goalie Steven Legatto. The Pioneers had a pair of shots on goal from Nick Curry before the Falcons tallied their second goal of the period. Timar and Tony Thomas set up forward Carey for Air Force's second goal, scoring on an odd-man rush to give the Falcons a 2-0 lead with 14:14 to go in the opening period.
Sacred Heart had a chance to get back in the game late in the period. Curry had a wraparound chance right in front of Air Force goaltender Jason Torf go wide of the goal with 5:47 to play in the first. He also had a chance off a loose puck one minute later that also went wide. Kyle Verbeek put the Pioneers on the scoreboard with 4:10 to play in the period, rifling a pass from Bryan Felice past Torf to make the score 2-1. The Pioneers then tied the game 2-2 with 11 seconds remaining in the period with a power-play goal. Eric Delong won the faceoff starting the power play, winning the puck back to Chad Barthelmess. Jared Eng then found Brian Sheehan on the doorstep to score the tying goal.
The Falcons started the second period the way they started the first, scoring early in the period. Casey Kleisinger scored 2:18 into the frame to put Air Force back in front 3-2. Air Force threatened to once again take a two-goal lead but Sacred Heart was able to kill a penalty. Curry came close to leveling the game with 9:17 to play in the second, but his shot off a Morgan Bonner drop pass was stopped by Torf.
Air Force had another chance to increase the lead with 7:07 to play in the period. Sacred Heart's Alex Stuart hooked Air Force's Cole Gunner to give the Falcons a penalty shot. Legatto then stopped Gunner's penalty to keep the score 3-2. The Pioneers then killed off the ensuing Falcons power play, along with Legatto making saves on a pair of odd-man rushes. The Falcons kept knocking at the door and finally took back a two-goal lead with 2:04 remaining in the second. Thomas put a Chad Demers pass past the Pioneers goaltender to give Air Force a 4-2 lead, which held through the end of the period.
The Pioneers opened the third period on the power play. Sacred Heart fired five shots on goal in the first 3:30 of the period but Torf was equal to the task, keeping the score 4-2. Air Force tacked on a goal midway through the period to make the score 5-2, which ended up being the final total. The Pioneers had 14 shots in the third period, the most on any period in the game for Sacred Heart, but could not find the back of the net.
Air Force outshot Sacred Heart 44-26 for the game. The Pioneers were 1-for-2 on the power play and successfully killed off three Falcons power plays. Legatto made 39 saves for Sacred Heart as Torf had 24 for Air Force.
The two teams will wrap up their weekend series on Sunday at 12 p.m. at Webster Bank Arena.