Air Force knocks off No. 16 Northeastern, 5-2

Published: December 29, 2013, 4:19 pm, by Joe Paisley

mckenzie-gazetteHANOVER, N.H. — Air Force never trailed and knocked  off No. 16 Northeastern 5-2 in the opening game of the Ledyard Bank Classic tournament on Sunday afternoon.

Air Force senior Mitch Torrel scored his second goal of the nonconference college hockey game less than two minutes after Northeastern’s Braden Pimm tallied his second score of the night to make it 3-2, Falcons, only 2:14 into the third period.

“We took it to them for two periods,” Falcons coach Frank Serratore said. “For us to come back and answer with that fourth goal was huge. I cannot tell you have proud I am of Mitch Torrel.  He was a beneficiary of a lot of hard work. I couldn’t be more proud of our team.”

Air Force senior goalie Jason Torf made 14 saves, including seven in the third period, to make that two-goal lead stand. Air Force out shot the Huskies 29-16 including 15-4 in the first period.

“Jason Torf played well but he didn’t have to play off the charts for us to win,” Serratore said. “This may be an upset but it was no fluke. The team that won tonight deserved it.”

Junior Scott Holm scored an empty-netter with 3:12 left for the final margin after Northeastern pulled goalie Clay Witt (24 saves).

The Falcons picked up the winning goal when sophomore forward Ben Carey deflected in a shot to the front of the NU net by senior Tony Thomas for a 3-1 lead with 8:16 left in the second period. The rest of the period was slowed by a number of penalties, resulting in a short 4-on-3 advantage for the Falcons at one point.

Torrel fired in a one-timer from down low off a pass from behind the net by senior Jason Fabian with 12:18 left in the opening frame.

Northeastern tied it with a power-play goal by Pimm about five minutes later only to see junior Cole Gunner bang in a short-range shot with 15 seconds left in the period for the 2-1 margin.

Air Force improved to 1-6 all-time in the tournament on the Dartmouth campus. It was the Falcons’ first win since downing Colorado College 3-1 on Nov. 19 and its first against a ranked opponent this season.

The Falcons will play either No. 5 Providence or the host Big Green in the championship at 5 p.m. Monday.