RMU, Air Force to Meet for Atlantic Title
Canisius Streak Snapped in Defeat; Army Falls Short Again
CHN Staff Report
Air Force is back in the Atlantic Hockey championship game, courtesy of Friday night’s 1-0 win over Army in the league semifinals in Rochester.
Air Force goaltender [[Shane Starrett]] made 29 saves and Ben Kucera scored the game-winning goal for the Falcons, who will secure an NCAA automatic bid with a victory and still have an outside change at earning an at-large bid for the NCAA Tournament even with a loss in the finals Saturday night.
Midway through the second period, Kucera was able to pounce on a rebound off the stick of Johnny Hrabovsky, finding room past Army goaltender Parker Gahagen (28 saves) for the only time in the game.
"What a hard fought hockey game this was," Air Force head coach Frank Serratore said. "Every game we played with them came down to a goalie pull at the end. This game being so tight was no surprise. That's service academy hockey.”
Starrett has now only allowed one goal in his last three games.
“Shane was terrific again for us,” Serrate said. “He's only given up one goal in his last three games and what a great time to be on a streak like that.”
The loss ends Army’s season. The Black Knights finished the season 18-13-5, posting their first record better than .500 since 2008.
“Army has a good team,” Serratore said. “They are so difficult to play against. They can really skate and are very well coached. Now we have a chance to win a championship, but we will have to play better. Robert Morris is a good team, they have good depth and scoring and their young goalie is really is good. I might be a little biased, I think the two best teams will play for the championship on Saturday. "
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Going up against the top-seed in the tournament, Robert Morris solidified itself as one of the top teams in Atlantic Hockey, eliminating Canisius with a 6-2 win in the Atlantic Hockey semifinals. The Colonials will play Air Force in the championship game tomorrow night.
Robert Morris might be the least-talked about 20-win team in the country. After Friday’s victory, the Colonials now have a 21-11-4 record.
“Everybody wrote us off,” said Robert Morris head coach Robert Schooley said. “We took it as a little bit of a chip on our shoulder. We wanted to prove that we weren’t going to take a step back as a program. And here we are … we’re going to play for another title tomorrow night.”
Robert Morris stormed out to a 3-0 lead on goals from Spencer Dorowicz, Daniel Mantenuto and Brady Ferguson. Canisius answered on the power play early in the third period but the Colonials destroyed hopes of a comeback with two goals late in the period, including a power-play goal of their own and an empty-netter.
Francis Marotte made 27 saves for the winners, besting one of the top goalies in the country, Charles Williams, who stopped 19 of 23 shots he faced.
“It’s been a huge blessing,” Williams said of this season, after he transferred from Ferris State for a graduate year.
“This year is something I couldn’t have imagined, couldn’t have drawn up this summer,” Williams continued. “To be here, to be a part of what we did here this season, is something I will never forget.”