"We battled hard and could have been up 4-1 with an inch the other way," said Canisius head coach Dave Smith. "We have to bottle the passion that we showed tonight because we played hard. If we continue to play that hard, we will come out on top more times than not."
Sophomore Doug Beck and freshman Chris Rumble both netted goals for the Griffs.
Junior Tony Capobianco recorded 34 saves in the losing effort.
Canisius grabbed the early advantage thanks to a power-play goal by Beck. Junior Kyle Gibbons sent a pass through the slot to McCrank down low in the right face-off circle. McCrank then centered the puck to Beck right in front of the crease and the sophomore knocked it in on an open net for his fifth goal of the season and the 1-0 lead 14:28 into the contest.
Rumble extended the Canisius advantage to two, scoring on the Griffs' second power play of the night. The rookie fired a shot in from the middle of the blue line for his second tally of the season. Junior Duncan McKellar and freshman Ralph Cuddemi both posted assists on the goal 6:33 into the second frame.
Canisius nearly scored a third goal minutes later but Tyler Wiseman's shot rang off the post and Air Force would take advantage.
The Falcons finally found the back of the net with 10:18 remaining in the second period. Ben Persian redirected a wide shot into the goal to bring Air Force within one, 2-1.
Air Force knotted the game at two with 15:30 remaining in the third period when Scott Holm finished off a 3-2 rush. The Falcons then took their first lead of the night with 8:22 left in the game. Holm picked up a rebound and scored over Capobianco, who hit the ice trying to collect the loose puck, for the game-winning tally.
The Falcons finished the contest with a 37-26 advantage in shots. Canisius was 2-for-3 on the power play, while killing all four Air Force extra-man advantages.
Jason Torf finished with 24 saves in the win for the Falcons.
Canisius returns to action on Friday, hosting Robert Morris. Game time at the Buffalo State Sports Arena is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.
Game Notes: Canisius last lost a game when holding a two-goal advantage on Nov. 2, 2010 in a 6-5 overtime defeat to Niagara ... The Griffs lost for the first time when leading after 40 minutes of action since Dec. 17, 2010. The Griffs were 20-0-2 in their last 22 games when holding a lead after two periods ... Canisius is now converting 26.7 percent of its power plays in its last 12 games (12-of-45). The Griffs were performing at 11.9 percent prior to the run ... All five of Cuddemi's points this season have come on the power play, while Rumble has recorded five of his seven points on the power play (2g, 3a) ... The loss drops the Griffs into a tie for eighth place in the Atlantic Hockey standings (a win would have resulted in Canisius moving into a tie for fourth) ... The Griffs are now 0-8-0 in one-goal games this season.