Freshman goaltender Chris Truehl, in his first career start, made 18 saves as Air Force shutout AIC, 2-0, in an Atlantic Hockey Association game, Saturday, Jan. 4, at the Olympia Ice Center in Springfield, Mass. The two teams split the two-game series. Air Force improved to 10-6-4 overall and 5-3-3 in the AHA. AIC fell to 4-13-0 overall and 4-7-0 in the league.
Air Force opened the scoring in the first two minutes of the first period on the rush as Tony Thomas netted his sixth of the season. George Michalke III gave the puck to Cole Gunner in the neutral zone and he skated down the right wing. His centering pass went past Michalke in the slot and Thomas flipped in the backhander from the right side. Air Force outshot AIC, 13-6, in the first period.
Early in the third period, each team had a quality chance, but came up empty. One minute into the third, Air Force had a 2-on-0 break and did not get a shot. Then on the next shift, AIC had an odd-man rush and Truehl made the save on a shot by Nathan Sliwinski. Late in the period, AIC winger Jason Popek snuck in tight on the Falcon defense and Truehl was there to make another save. With 41 seconds left, AIC pulled its goalie in favor of the extra attacker. Gunner blocked a shot at the point, pushed the puck ahead and skated in uncontested. His empty-netter with 8.3 seconds remaining sealed the 2-1 victory.
Air Force outshot AIC in every period and 34-18 in the game. AFA was 0-1 on the power play while AIC was 0-for-2. Hunter Leisner made 32 saves for the Yellow Jackets.
"I am really proud of our effort and consistency tonight," head coach Frank Serratore said. "Our intensity level was extremely high from the very beginning of the game. We were the better team tonight, but just couldn't get that second goal until late in the game. We didn't give them much, they had to earn it. But when they did have a chance, our freshman goalie was there for us. For his first career start, in a tight game on the road, I thought he was very cool and composed. This was a great team effort. Our energy was great, we outshot them in every period and finally played well in the third."