Feb 8, 2014 2:11 AM by Greg Smith
U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. - Air Force's top line of Chad Demers, Cole Gunner and Scott Holm combined for four goals and seven assists to lead Air Force to a 5-3 win over league-leading Mercyhurst in an Atlantic Hockey Association game, Friday, Feb. 7, at the Academy's Cadet Ice Arena. Air Force improved to 16-9-4 overall and 11-6-3 in the AHA. Mercyhurst fell to 15-11-5 overall and 13-3-4 in the league. Mercyhurst leads the AHA with 30 points. Air Force is in fourth place with 25 points.
Mercyhurst scored two goals in a span of 40 seconds in the first period. Tyler Shiplo opened the scoring with a shot from the right point at the 4:29 mark of the opening period. Anthony Mastrodicasa and Daniel Bahntge assisted on the play. Forty seconds later, Kyle Cook won a faceoff in the offensive zone and Kyle Dutra scored on a rebound of his own shot at 5:09. Early in the second period, Air Force scored on the rush. Gunner found Holm in the Lakers' zone. Holm left it for Chad Demers who scored his 12th of the season just 48 seconds into the second period.
The Lakers clung to the 2-1 lead entering the third period, but the Falcons quickly took the lead. Gunner scored his 13th of the season with a perfect centering pass from Holm just 1:28 into the third period. Adam McKenzie also assisted on the goal. The Falcons took their first lead of the game at 2:49 of the third period when Holm tipped in a pass from Gunner. Demers collected a helper on the play as well. However, Cook tied the game at 3-3 at the 3:16 mark for his eighth of the season. A Falcon defenseman fell at his own blue line leading to a 2-on-1 rush. Dutra and Nardo Nagtzaam assisted on the goal. The Falcons came right back as the top line scored for the fourth time, this one on a tic-tac-toe play in the zone. Demers intercepted a pass in the Lakers end and fed Holm in the center of the ice. Holm then found Gunner open on the left side for his team-leading 13th of the season. The Falcons took a 5-3 lead at 13:31 on a goal by Ben Persian. George Michalke III raced back to wave off an icing call and then Persian intercepted a clear in the slot and scored his third of the season. Late in the game, Mercyhurst pulled its goaltender in favor of the extra attacker but was unable to score.
Air Force outshot Mercyhurst, 53-37, tying as the most shots by the Falcons since getting 56 vs. Alabama-Huntsville in 2011. AFA was 0-for-3 on the power play while Mercyhurst was 0-for-2. Jordan Tibbett made 48 saves while Chris Truehl made 34 for the Falcons.
"I don't think I have ever seen a performance by a line like we saw tonight with Gunner, Holm and Demers," head coach Frank Serratore said. "That was magical. They put the team on their back and led us to the promised land. I thought as the game went on, we wore them down. They are a very talented and opportunistic team and there were times tonight when I thought it might not be our night. But our bench was spirited and optimistic and had great energy all night."
Air Force and Mercyhurst conclude the two-game league series at the Cadet Ice Arena on Saturday, Feb. 8, at 7:05 p.m. MT.