USAF Academy, Colo. – Air Force scored three goals in 148 seconds to rally from a 2-0 deficit for a 3-2 victory over the Canisius College hockey team on Friday night. The loss drops the Griffs to 0-2-0 on the season and 0-2-0 in Atlantic Hockey play, while the Falcons improve to 3-2-0 and 1-0-0 against league foes.
“We played real hard and real simple in the first half of the game but we lost our focus in the second half once we grabbed the lead,” said Canisius head coach Dave Smith. “We need to find a way to maintain that high intensity and compete level for a full 60 minutes so we can be our most successful this year.”
Junior Cody Freeman and sophomore Ralph Cuddemi both scored for the Griffs in the defeat.
Senior netminder Tony Capobianco finished the contest with 32 saves.
After a scoreless first period, the Griffs dominated the early part of the second frame to race to a 2-0 lead. Canisius outshot the Falcons, 8-0, to start the stanza and were rewarded with goals by Freeman and Cuddemi. Freeman opened the scoring, knocking the puck in off an Air Force defender’s skate for the 1-0 lead. Seniors Ben Danford and Kyle Gibbons registered an assist on Freeman’s first goal of the season 2:47 into the period.
Cuddemi then continued his strong start to his sophomore campaign, tallying his first of the season on the power play just 1:43 after Canisius opened the scoring. The sophomore received the puck in the slot and roofed a back-handed shot into the back of the net for the 2-0 advantage. Senior defender Duncan McKellar and Danford both posted assists on the goal.
Air Force, however, answered back and scored three goals in a 2:28 span to take the lead. Adam McKenzie started the run with a blast from the blue line 8:57 into the period. Tony Thomas then knocked in his own rebound on the power play 10:48 into the period to knot the contest at two. Finally, Cole Gunner finished the run just 37 seconds later, taking advantage of a Canisius turnover and scoring on a 2-on-1 for the 3-2 Falcons lead 11:25 into the second frame.
That was all the offense the Falcons needed as the Griffs were unable to find the equalizer in the final 28-plus minutes. The best opportunity for Canisius came on a late power play when Freeman made a move to get past an Air Force defender but his shot hit the shoulder of the Air Force netminder to preserve the victory.
The Falcons finished the contest with a 35-22 advantage in shots. Both teams netted one power-play goal in four opportunities for Canisius and three for Air Force.
Jason Torf finished with 20 saves for the Falcons to earn the victory in net.
Canisius returns to action tomorrow night, taking a break from Atlantic Hockey play to face 17th-ranked Denver. First puck drop is set for 9:07 p.m. ET.
Game Notes: In the last 17 meetings between the two Atlantic Hockey foes, 14 have resulted in a tie or been decided by one goal (not including empty-net tallies) … Gibbons has now recorded a point in 12-straight games dating back to last season. It is the longest run by a Griff since Cory Conacher recorded a point in 12-straight games from Nov. 20, 2009 to Jan. 16, 2010 … Danford has registered multiple assists in back-to-back games to start the season … Canisius, who had lost only one game in a 108-game span from 2010 to 2013 when holding a two-goal lead, has now lost its last three games dating back to last year’s NCAA Tournament – all with at least a two-goal advantage.