Koch scores two as Falcons advance to championship game

Box Score UTICA, NY – Junior Brandon Koch scored two goals to lead Air Force to a 4-3 win over fourth-seeded RIT in the Atlantic Hockey Association semifinals at the Adirondack Bank Center in Utica, NY With the win, Air Force advances to the AHA championship game against top-seeded AIC , Saturday, March 19, at 7:35 pm ET. The game will be live on AM 740 KVOR in Colorado Springs.

The Falcons (16-16-3) took the early lead when Will Gavin scored his team-leading 16th goal of the season at 13:38 of the first period. Luke Rowe collected a loose puck in the Falcons’ end and made a long outlet pass off the boards to Gavin at the far blue line. Gavin’s wrister went high, blocker side for the 1-0 lead.

RIT (18-16-4) tied the game midway through the second period as Aiden Hansen-Bukata put back a round of Nick Bruce’s shot at 10:04 of the second period. Air Force tied the game in the final minute. Andrew DeCarlo drew a penalty to put the Falcons on their first power play of the game. Just four seconds after the power-play expired, Parker Brown fired a shot from the left circle. Cosentino’s rebound was saved, but DeCarlo netted his fourth of the season with 35 seconds left in the second.

“Our guys have responded all year,” head coach Frank Serratore said. “Scoring the first goal was huge. Even after RIT kept tying the game, our guys kept responding. I couldn’t be any prouder of my players and coaching staff at this point. We gained a tremendous amount of experience throughout the year. spirit and our resiliency have been huge for us. “

The teams combined for four goals in a span of six minutes early in the third period. RIT tied the game when Dan Willett scored with a wrister from the left circle on the power play at 4:15. Koch’s first of the game gave the Falcons a 3-2 lead on the power play at 4:59. Gavin and Rowe played catch out front and Koch ripped a one-timer from the center point. RIT answered on the rush at 5:36 to tie the game. The Tigers forced a turnover in the neutral zone and Grady Hobbs scored with a wrister from the left circle at 5:36. Those three goals were scored in a span of 81 seconds. Four minutes later, Air Force retook the lead. Koch’s wrister from the left dot went high, blocker side, for his second of the game. Cosentino and Rowe assisted on Koch’s first career game-winner.

“As the year went on, we continued to mature,” Koch said. “Looking at the preseason polls at the beginning of the year lit a fire under us and as the year went on we just knew we were bound for great things.”

RIT outshot Air Force, 27-26. Each team was 1-for-2 on the power play. Tommy Scarfone made 22 saves for the Tigers. Senior Alex Schilling made 24 for the Falcons.

“We have such a mature group. We have so much good energy on the bench. When we gave up goals, nobody hung their heads. We just stayed even the whole game. Alex Schilling is our rock and has been so good for us all year. “

Air Force is now 8-2 all-time in the AHA semifinals and advances to its eighth championship game in school history. Air Force and AIC met earlier this season in Springfield, Mass., And the Yellow Jackets swept the series, 5-2 and 4-3, Jan. 1-2.

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