Falcons fall to Minnesota Duluth, 4-1

MILWAUKEE, Wisc. – Minnesota Duluth scored four unanswered goals for a 4-1 win over Air Force in the consolation game of the third annual Kwik Trip Holiday Faceoff, Friday, Dec. 29, at the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, Wisc.

Air Force (8-11-1 overall, 5-4-1 AHA) ended its six-period scoring drought with a power-play goal in the first period. Luke Rowe slid the puck to Clayton Cosentino on the right side and Cosentino found Will Gavin in the slot. Gavin scored his team-leading 10th goal of the season, and his team-leading sixth power-play goal, at 13:58. UMD answered 15 seconds later as Carter Loney scored on a wrap-around to tie the game.

Minnesota-Duluth (6-9-4, 2-5-1 NCHC) owns the nation's No. 2 power-play unit, but the Falcons killed two of them midway through the second period. However, the Bulldogs took a 2-1 lead on their third power play of the period. UMD leading scorer Ben Steeves scored on the power play with a one-timer from the right dot with just 4.7 seconds left in the period.

The Bulldogs took a 3-1 lead with 6:44 left when Anthony Menghini centered a puck for Luke Johnson from behind the net. Air Force pulled the goalie with 4:07 remaining and had four shots on goal, but were unable to light the lamp. With 1.2 seconds left, Steeves scored an empty-netter for his second goal of the game.

Each team had 34 shots on goal. Air Force was 1-for-4 on the power play while UMD was 1-for-3. Guy Blessing made 30 saves in the game and 65 in the series. Zach Stejskal made 33 for the Bulldogs.

"We played better tonight than last night," head coach Frank Serratore said. "We managed the puck better. Playing against Duluth is never easy, its like getting  a root canal. It is tough sledding for us right now. We've scored one goal in our last three games. We are being tested as a group right now. But we do have some good indicators. We are getting good goaltending and we are getting chances. If we weren't getting chances, I'd be a lot more concerned. We just need a few of those chances to go in and get this thing turned around."

Air Force returns to Atlantic Hockey play with a two-game series at Bentley, Friday-Saturday, Jan. 5-6, in Waltham, Mass.

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