WEST POINT, N.Y. – Parker Brown scored 1:02 into overtime to lift Air Force to a 3-2 win over Army as the Falcons swept the Atlantic Hockey quarterfinal series, Saturday, March 12, at Tate Rink in West Point, N.Y.
After a scoreless first period, Army had some quality chances early in the second period. Army had a 6-1 shot advantage in the first five minutes of the second period, including several acrobatic saves from Alex Schilling. In the first 22 minutes of the game, Army also hit two posts.
Air Force (15-16-3 overall) scored first off of a faceoff play. Clayton Cosentino won a faceoff and Will Gavin scored his team-leading 15th of the season at 10:14. After a major penalty on Air Force’s Nate Horn, Army quickly tied the game. Thirty seconds into the power play, Brett Abdelnour tapped in a pass from Anthony Firriolo at 8:33. Army (14-17-4 overall) took a 2-1 lead on the rush as Daniel Haider scored on a rebound.
Early in the third period, Austin Schwartz forced a turnover deep in the Army end. Schwartz took a wrister from the bottom of the right circle that snuck past Army goalie Justin Evenson at 2:36. Late in the period, Army’s Eric Butte drove the net on the rush and Alex Schilling made the save. Schilling made two saves in the final 90 seconds. Then, with 10 seconds, Andrew Kruse’s shot from the left point was saved and Gavin’s rebound chance was turned away as well sending the game into overtime.
Less than a minute into the overtime period, Gavin carried the puck deep into the Army end. As Army, tried to clear it, Mitchell Digby kept the puck in the zone and sent it toward the net. Brown redirected the puck past Evenson for his first career game-winner.
“This is one of the toughest games I have played,” Brown said. “They battled so hard. They are a tough team to play against. Digby put a great shot on net and I was able to get enough on it to score. I didn’t even see it go in. I just saw the boys celebrating and I skated down to celebrate with Schills (Alex Schilling). There’s really no words to describe the emotions we are feeling tonight.”
With the victory, Air Force advances to the Atlantic Hockey Final Four for the 10th time in 16 years. The 10 trips to the semifinals tie the AHA record. Air Force will play the winner of Sunday’s Sacred Heart-RIT game on Friday, March 18, at 7:35 pm ET at the Adirondack Bank Center in Utica, N.Y.
“It was a miraculous effort by our guys,” head coach Frank Serratore said. “We have a spirted group that is so fun to be around. Our culture has never been better. We have a special group and it takes a special group to come in here and do what we did. I have been so blessed to have so many great highlights in my coaching career, but none better than this. This group won just three games last season. Then we come back this season, with only one senior, and picked ninth in the coaches’ poll, and to get here is incredible. We were behind going into the third period both nights and found a way to get it done.”