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Mar 17, 2013 12:37 AM by Jordan Mason

Air Forces season ends with 4-3 overtime loss to Canisius

U.S AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. - Canisius defenseman Duncan McKellar scored the game-winning goal 1:08 into overtime as seventh-seeded Canisius beat second-seeded Air Force, 4-3, in game two of the Atlantic Hockey Association best-of-three quarterfinal series, Saturday at the Academy's Cadet Ice Arena. Canisius won the series after winning game one of the series, 4-3, on Friday. Canisius will advance to the AHA Final Four in Rochester, N.Y., next weekend to face top-seeded Niagara.

Early in the first period, Canisius drew first blood on the rush. Doug Jessey and Ralph Cuddemi sent the puck through the neutral zone to Preston Shupe at the blue line. Shupe skated in and fired a wrister over the blocker of Jason Torf at the 6:13 mark. Air Force held a large shot advantage in the first period but it wasn't until the 20th shot that the Falcons were able to score. With 1:56 remaining in the first period, the Falcons tied the game on a 2-on-2 rush. Ben Carey led the rush and dropped it to John Kruse on the left side. Kruse gave it back to Carey in front who netted his sixth of the season.

Air Force took its first lead of the series early in the second period when Adam McKenize scored at the 2:21 mark. Ben Carey forced a turnover in the neutral zone and Scott Holm fed Adam McKenzie at the center point. As McKenzie fired his shot, Holm screened in front and the Falcons had a 2-1 lead. Ten minutes later, McKenzie gave the Falcons a 3-1 lead on the power play. Stephen Carew made a pass from the right point to the left circle to Kyle De Laurell. De Laurell slid the puck to McKenzie who fired from the center point and netted his second of the game and eighth of the season. Late in the period, the Griffs cut the Falcon lead to 3-2 as Kyle Gibbons scored at 16:33. Patrick Sullivan made a pass from behind the net and Gibbons scored his second of the series from the right circle.

The Falcons held on to the one-goal lead until late in the game. Matthew Grazen tied the game at 3-3 with 1:58 remaining in the third period. Torrey Lindsay fired a shot that hit an Air Force defenseman and bounced into the slot. Stephen Miller then stepped in and fired a shot that hit another Falcon defenseman. The puck caromed over to the far circle when Grazen collected and ripped one past the glove of a diving Jason Torf at 18:02.

In the first minute of overtime, Air Force attempted to clear the puck from its own zone but McKellar knocked it down at the blue line. His shot from the top of the left circle hit an Air Force defenseman and the puck popped high into the air. Without anyone seeing the puck, it landed over the shoulder of Jason Torf and onto the back of his leg. The puck then rolled off his leg and into the net for the game-winner at 1:08. McKellar's unassisted goal ended Air Force's season.

Air Force outshot Canisius, 53-25, in the game. AFA was 1-for-6 on the power play while Canisius was 0-for-3. Torf made 21 saves while Capobianco made 50 for the Griffs.

"I thought we played a terrific game," head coach Frank Serratore said. "We spotted them a goal, but came back to lead 3-1. Our penalty kill was very good and we scored a power-play goal. We also had 53 shots. The difference in the game was Capobianco. He was great. This game certainly didn't go the way it was supposed to go for us. I give Canisius credit, they fought back to tie the game and then they got the bounce in overtime. This is a bitter pill to swallow. But we have been very fortunate in this league and we have done this to a lot of teams. I am very proud of our team. We got off to a rough start this season and these guys battled back to get a first-round bye. We were 14-4-4 in the final 20 regular-season games and credit those guys for hanging tough together."

Air Force's season came to an end with a 17-13-7 overall record. Canisius improved to 17-18-5 overall this season.

 

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