Hockey: Falcons win shootout, advance to championship

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No. 11 U.S. Air Force Academy Falcons and University of Connecticut Huskies skated to a 2-2 overtime tie in the first round of the 16th annual Toyota/UConn Classic Dec. 29 at the Mark Edward Freitas Ice Forum in Storrs, Conn. Air Force won the shootout, 2-1, to advance to the championship game on Dec. 30 at 7:15 p.m. EST. 

The Falcons will face the Quinnipiac Bobcats, who defeated Merrimack, 4-3 in overtime, earlier.

The game is officially scored as a tie and this was a conference game with each team getting one point in the league standings. Air Force is now 14-2-1 overall and 11-1-1 in the league. UConn is 4-11-1 overall and 3-5-1 in the Atlantic Hockey Association.

Air Force scored the first two goals of the game to race out to a 2-0 lead. Sophomore Jacques Lamoureux, the No. 2 scorer in the nation, scored his nation's best ninth power play goal at the 6:46 mark. After Josh Frider drew a penalty, the Falcons capitalized with the nation's top power play unit. Derrick Burnett made a pass from the boards to Lamoureux skating down the middle of the ice. The sophomore made a move then flipped the puck over the pad of goaltender Beau Erickson. Then, five minutes later, freshman defenseman Scott Mathis scored on the rush. Scott Kozlak made the pass in the neutral zone to Mathis on the left side. Mathis scored his third of the season at the 11:20 mark. The Huskies got on the board with a penalty shot at the 14:06 mark. Pat McCauley was on a breakaway and Greg Flynn was called for a hooking penalty and McCauley scored on the penalty shot to make the score 2-1.

UConn outshot Air Force, 11-4, in the second period and the Huskies tied the game at the 7:39 mark. Daniel Naurato scored on a centering pass from Jeff Sapeiha from right in front of the net. The teams entered the third period tied at 2-2.

Neither team scored in the third period or in overtime. Following the five-minute overtime, the teams battled in a shootout to determine who would advance in the tournament. Lamoureux shot first for Air Force and scored. Michael Coppola then shot for UConn and Volkening made the save. After a shot by Jeff Hajner was saved, Andrew Olson scored for the Huskies to tie the shootout at 1-1. Brent Olson answered for Air Force for a 2-1 lead and then Volkening stopped McCauley to send Air Force to championship game.

Air Force outshot UConn, 34-22, in the game. The Falcons were 1-for-3 on the power play while the Huskies were 0-for-3. Volkening made 20 saves for Air Force while Erickson made 32 for the Huskies.

"UConn is a team of opportunists," said Falcons head coach Frank Serratore. "We had a great first period and their goaltender was fabulous. Then the worm turned in the second period as they got some momentum. The third period was pretty even and we even took control at times, but could not score. We need to become a complete team in terms of the style of play. We have proven that we can go up and down with the best teams in the country. However, teams now are not going to go up and down with us. Teams will play a trapping game against us and we need to add another dimension to our game and that is that we need to find a way to win these types of games. That is the challenge in front for us now. For us to go two and half periods and not score a goal is not acceptable. I liked our approach tonight but it didn't turn out the way we wanted it to. This was not a good tie for us."

Air Force will now face Quinnipiac in the championship game of the tournament on  Dec. 30 at 7:15 p.m. EST. The game will be broadcast on KCS AM 1300 in Colorado Springs, Colo., and on the internet at

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