USAFA, Colo. – In a game that featured three ties and two lead changes, the Army hockey team dropped a 4-3 decision to Air Force on Friday night at Cadet Ice Center.
The Black Knights (5-15-2, 5-12-2 AHA) got goals from three different players, while goalie Parker Gahagen stopped 40 shots in the loss. Conor Andrle, Shane Hearn and Nick DeCenzo netted goals, while Tyler Pham extended his point streak to five games and C.J. Reuschlein made it three straight.
The Falcons (8-13-3, 7-6-2 AHA) saw Chad Demers net a hat trick, including the gamewinner on the power play with 6:42 left in the third period. Chris Truehl pushed aside 15 shots to earn the win as Air Force outshot the Black Knights 44-18.
Army took the early lead with Andrle scoring his third of the season with assists to Reuschlein and Pham. The rookie center collected the puck in the neutral zone and found Reuschlein streaking up ice with Andrle. A 2-on-1 developed and Reuschlein slid it over to Andrle. The rookie winger made a move and looked to have lost the puck. Fortunately for him and Army, Truehl committed to Reuschlein and left the net open. Andrle caught up to it right as it was crossing the line to make sure it hit the net and Army led 1-0 with 13:43 left in the first.
The Falcons controlled much of the play with a 12-4 shot advantage, but Gahagen was on his game with a few great saves and the defense laid it on the line multiple times with nine blocked shots.
The early part of the second period belonged to the Falcons as Air Force gained a 2-1 lead with back-to-back goals from Demers. The first one came off a rebound in front. George Michalke fired a shot on Gahagen that he stopped, but the puck bounced off his right pad and Demers was there for the put back to tie the game with 12:11 remaining in the middle frame. Demers then gave the Falcons their first lead, making it 2-1 less than two minutes later. Cole Gunner won an offensive zone faceoff back to Demers and he ripped it to the back of the net.
The Black Knights knotted the score with 2:59 left in the second stanza. Air Force turned the puck over in its own zone and Hearn swooped in on the loose puck. He skated around one defender and roofed a shot past Truehl to even the score at 2-2 with his second of the season.
The Falcons regained the lead early in the third period with Tyler Ledford lighting the lamp with assists to A.J. Reid and Dan Weissenhofer. The goal came off a whiffed shot in the slot and the puck fell right on Ledford’s stick and he hit the open net to make it 3-2.
DeCenzo then tied the game for the third time with his second of the season. It came off a turnover by the Falcons and he skated into the offensive zone. He sniped a snap shot that hit off iron and past Truehl. It was his second in the last four games.
The Falcons took the lead for good with Demers recording the hat trick with a power play goal coming with less than seven minutes left. He was camped out in front and Gunner found him with a cross-ice pass and he tapped it home for the gamewinner.
Army and Air Force are back on the ice tomorrow night at Cadet Ice Center. Faceoff is set for 9:05 p.m. ET.
Ice Shavings: Army and Air Force played for the 62nd time … Pham extended his streak to a season-long five games and has found the scoresheet in seven of his last eight … Reuschlein made it four games in a row with a point and five of his last six … Hearn now has three points against Air Force in his career, tying him with Maurice Alvarez for the most among current players … Air Force leads the series, 35-22-5, and has won the last three meetings … it was Army’s eighth one-goal game and the Black Knights are 4-4 in those games.