Feb 6, 2014 10:00 AM by Greg Smith
Air Force (15-9-4, 10-6-3 AHA) hosts a two-game Atlantic Hockey series against the Mercyhurst Lakers (15-10-5, 13-2-4 AHA), Friday-Saturday, Feb. 7-8, at the Academy's Cadet Ice Arena. Faceoff is at 7:05 p.m. MT each night. Air Force is tied for fourth in the AHA with 23 points. Mercyhurst is in first place with 30 points.
Inside the Standings
With four regular-season series remaining (eight games), teams are positioning themselves for the playoffs. Mercyhurst leads the AHA with 30 points, while Bentley is second with 26 points and UConn is third with 25. Air Force and Robert Morris are tied for fourth with 23 points. Canisius is in sixth with 20 points and Niagara is seventh with 17. The top four teams at the end of the regular season receive a bye in the first round of the playoffs. Seeds five through eight will host seeds nine through 12 in the first round, March 7-9, in a best of three series. The winners of those series will then travel to the top four seeds for a best of three series, March 14-16. The winners of those quarterfinal series will advance to the AHA Final Four in Rochester, N.Y., March 21-22.
All games will be broadcast in Colorado Springs on The Animal AM 1300 and on the internet at www.GoAirForceFalcons.com. Jay Ritchie will call the play-by-play. Dave Toller will be the color analyst. Pregame show begins 30 minutes before faceoff each day. All games will be video streamed live on AmericaOne.com.
Series with Mercyhurst
Air Force and Mercyhurst have played 25 times and the series is deadlocked at 11-11-3. In games played in Colorado, Mercyhurst has dominated the series with a 2-7-1 record against the Falcons. Mercyhurst has won two straight and four of the last five at Cadet Ice Arena. The teams met at Cadet Ice Arena for one game last season, a 5-4 Mercyhurst win. The last time the teams played a two-game series in Colorado was Feb. 17-18, 2012 and the teams split the series. The teams have met three times in the playoffs and AFA has won all three. 19 of the 25 games have been decided by two goals or less. The series has been tight since its beginning in 2007 as just once during the series has a team won more than two straight games (Mercyhurst won three in 2007). Last season, Air Force and Mercyhurst played three times and the season series was deadlocked at 1-1-1. Mercyhurst beat Air Force, 5-4, at the Academy last November. In Erie in February, AFA won the first game, 4-2, and the teams tied in finale, 2-2. Earlier this season, Mercyhurst beat Air Force, 8-2, in Erie, Pa.
Earlier This Season vs. Mercyhurst
Mercyhurst's Daniel O'Donoghue and Ryan Misiak each scored two goals to lead the Lakers to an 8-2 win over Air Force in an Atlantic Hockey Association game, Saturday, Nov. 2, at the Mercyhurst Ice Center in Erie, Pa. Air Force opened the scoring just 1:17 into the first period when senior Mitch Torrel scored his first career goal. Jason Fabian won a faceoff in the offensive zone and Torrel scored his first from the slot. However, Mercyhurst scored the next three goals for a 3-1 lead. Laker Zac Frischmon scored on a rebound of Nick Jones' shot at the 5:40 mark of the first period. The Lakers took the lead at the 8:22 mark on a slap shot from the point by Tyler Shiplo. O'Donoghue then gave the Lakers a 3-1 lead at the 15:14 mark of the first period when he tipped in a pass from Kyle Dutra. The Falcons quickly answered just 12 seconds later when the third line scored again. Fabian took the puck down the right side and sent it to the center of the ice. Senior Ryan Timar swatted in his second of the season at 15:26 to cut the Laker lead to 3-2. Mercyhurst scored two goals in the second period and built a 5-2 lead. Matt Zay scored a power-play goal at the 7:37 mark and then O'Donoghue scored a 4-on-4 goal at 14:29 for a three-goal advantage. After O'Donoghue's goal, Jason Torf was replaced in the Falcon net by junior Paul Moberg. The Lakers scored two quick goals in the third period for a 7-2 lead. Nardo Nagtzaam scored on a 1-on-2 rush at 2:36 and then Ryan Misiak scored with a wrister from the slot at 3:35. After the goal, Moberg was replaced in goal by freshman Chris Truehl, who played the final 16:25 of the game. With seven seconds left in the game and the Falcons on a power play, Misiak scored on a 2-on-1 short-handed breakaway. Mercyhurst and Air Force each had 38 shots in the game, but most of the Falcons shots came late in the game. The Lakers were 1-for-5 on the power play while Air Force was 0-for-7. Jimmy Sarjeant made 36 saves for the Lakers. Torf made 21 saves and allowed five goals in the 34 minutes for the Falcons. Moberg made two saves and allowed two goals in eight minutes while Truel made eight saves and allowed one goal.
Scouting the Lakers
Mercyhurst is in first place in the AHA with 30 points (15-10-5 overall and 13-2-4 in the AHA). After a pair of road losses at Ohio State in late December, the Lakers are 6-1-3 in their last 10 games. Mercyhurst's seven-game unbeaten streak ended with a 7-4 loss at home to Canisius. Last weekend, Mercyhurst took three points from second-place Bentley with a 2-2 overtime tie and a 4-1 win in Erie. Junior forward Matthew Zay leads the league with 39 points on 16 goals and 23 assists. Senior Daniel O'Donoughue has 11 goals and 23 assists for 34 points. Junior Jimmy Sarjeant has seen the most action in the net this season and is second in the conference leader with a .948 saves percentage and a 1.77 GAA. However, junior Jordan Tibbett started both games last weekend against Bentley in place of the injured Sarjeant and led the Lakers to three points. Tibbett gave up just three goals in the series.