Live Blog: West Regional: (1) Minnesota vs. (4) Air Force

Posted by: Theresa

For those tuning in, this is a live blog from the NCAA West Regional in Denver, Colo., for the Minnesota/Air Force game. 

4:06pm MST – Falcons got a standing ovation from the crowd and also acknowledged the crowd after listening to their band play some song – will try to find out what that was … ETA: Song was just a more somber verse of their fight song. Thanks to Milo Bryant of the Colorado Springs Gazette for that information.

4:03pm MST – Final, Gophers 4, Falcons 3. That was one hell of a game and I’m going to drop my impartiality here and say that I really wish Air Force could have pulled that one off. Final shots 37-31 in favor of Minnesota. 

4:02pm MST – 39.5 seconds left and Air Force ices it, forcing them to put Volkening back in net.

3:57pm MST – Air Force cheering section has apparently dwindled down to just the actual Air Force fans, which is really not what the team needs right now. With 2:08 remaining in the third, coach Frank Serratore decides to take his time-out … and pull Volkening.  

3:50pm MST – The Gophers may have taken the lead, but that one I bet is going to be reviewed – puck took some weird bounces … and it’s a Gopher goal – Minnesota takes their first lead of this game, 4-3, with four and a half to play. Goal ends up being credited to Mike Carman. 

3:47pm MST – Tie game – Jim O’Brien deflects an Erik Johnson shot stick-side past Volkening.

3:45pm MST – That goal really gave the Gophers the momentum – the play has hardly left the Falcons’ zone since – 6:01 to play in the third.

3:43pm MST – Seven seconds later, the Gophers make the exact same play, this time with Stoa scoring to cut the Falcons lead to one – 3-2 Air Force. 

3:41pm MST – 8:27 left in the third, Volkening makes a save on Ryan Stoa on the backdoor on a pass across from Kyle Okposo. Let’s call that one save of the game #2. 

3:39pm MST – Frank Schiavone with the save – shot comes on net and d-man Schiavone just happened to be there to take it in the gut. Still, he got a cross-checking penalty called on him from a bit earlier at 10:02. 

3:37pm MST – Figures, Air Force scores and the internet spazzes again. 

3:31pm MST – Brett Nylander skated down the right side and put in a wrap-around on Briggs to give Air Force a 3-1 lead at 5:32 of the third period. Assists go to Fairchild and Schiavone. 

3:26pm MST – University of Wisconsin jersey spotted as well – have half the WCHA represented here. 

3:21pm MST – More signs that this game is even: AF 1-4 on the PP, Minnesota 0-3.

And we’re underway to start the third and (hopefully) final frame of this one …

3:15pm MST – At the end of two, Air Force leads in shots 26-24 and is winning the face-offs 18-17 … oh, and they lead 2-1 as well. Since I covered Air Force for a local hockey magazine this year (Denver native), I will admit that it is reeeeeally hard for me to stay impartial during this game.

Oh, and I’d like to add one of the reasons I love college hockey: you see this at the Frozen Four to a much greater degree, but you spot jerseys from all sorts of other college teams at these games. Despite the usual suspects (Minn., UND, Mich., AF) and the obvious (Denver and CC), I’ve also seen Boston University (a Drury one, no less), Alaska (Fairbanks), UAA and the University of Maine represented … as well as Holy Cross (hmm, I wonder why …).

Attendance: 11,161 – much better than anyone predicted. 

3:04pm MST – Air Force takes advantage of the 5-on-3 to take the late lead with 36.7 seconds left. Andrew Ramsey camped out backdoor on Briggs to get the rebound off of Mike Phillipich’s shot through traffic. Falcons, 2-1 … and will still have a :41 second power play to start the third. Michael Mayra was added an assist as well.

3:01pm MST – Air Force gets its first power play of the second period with just under two to play – Bostrom goes in the box for interference. Then, 40 seconds later, Tony Lucia (Don’s son) goes in for the same reason to make it a 5-on-3 for the Falcons.

2:59pm MST – A sign of how even this game is – shots (23) and face-offs (16) are dead even here … as well as the score (1-1).

2:56pm MST – We have a loud “Air” … “Force” cheer going on in the arena – the “home” team getting some support from the visitors from North Dakota and Michigan as well as their local fans. 

2:55pm MST – While the Gophers have taken more control of this game (shots: 22-20 MN), Air Force is definitely still in it, with about 5:30 to play in the second.

2:50pm MST – Josh Frider with a short-handed spin-o-rama move on Briggs – didn’t score, but was cool to see.

2:49pm MST – The Air Force band does the “Superman” theme so much better than the BU band (BU alum here). The Gophers have also officially hit 20 shots on net. 

2:47pm MST – Are things starting to unravel for the Falcons? Charbonneau goes in the penalty box for holding the stick at 11:23. 

2:45pm MST – Just realized that a familiar face (for me) is doing this game – Scott Hansen from Hockey East. 

2:41pm MST – Air Force almost goes up two-nothing with a give-and-go in front of the Gopher net, but then the Gophers go right back the other way, three-on-one, and Barriball puts in a shot that squeaked through Volkening’s five-hole. Assist to Vanelli at 9:00 of the second.

2:40pm MST – Volkening doing a cartwheel in the crease on the Gopher power play – save of the game right there.

2:38pm MST – Internet is wacky here … we were six minutes into the second without a Gopher shot, but that has since changed since Josh Schaffer went off for holding. 

2:32pm MST – 2:30 into the second and so far Minnesota hasn’t had a shot on net, while Air Force has had four.

2:27pm MST – Lost internet here in the press box, but continuing to blog – second period is underway here at Pepsi Center, with Air Force controlling play thus far.

2:11pm MST – Air Force leads 1-0 at the end of the first period. Frank Serratore was right, too – the Air Force cheering section is wherever there aren’t Minnesota Golden Gopher fans.

Shots 11-9 Air Force; once again, the Falcons are holding their opponents to a nominal amount of shots. 

2:08pm MST – Mike Carman goes off for hooking at 18:05. Air Force had a goal-mouth pass across go behind Briggs as their first power play chance, but there was no angle there. Air Force is definitely controlling the play now, while it was Minnesota’s game the first half of this period. 

2:04pm MST – Blake Wheeler collided with teammate Evan Kaufmann and went off clutching his arm – not a good sign for the Gophers. Still, no sign of athletic trainer-assistance, so maybe he’s okay. 

2:00pm MST – That goal gave Air Force a lot of confidence – they are putting more offensive pressure on the Gophers. Still, the game action is relatively back and forth. 

Michael Mayra’s head is also not screwed on straight, as he has had a lot of defensive lapses for the Falcons. (6:29 remaining in the first, by the way)

1:54pm MST – Remember how I said the Falcons didn’t look that outmatched? On the penalty kill, they do a bit. Still, they were able to kill off Hajner’s penalty.

Hajner, fresh out of the penalty box, skates down the left side and wrists one past Kellen Briggs short-side under his right arm. 1-0 Air Force, at 9:57 of the 1st period, from Matt Fairchild.

Almost the entire arena cheered for that one, by the way.

1:50pm MST – Air Force has made some defensive lapses in their own zone, but nothing has yet come out of them. Other than that, the Falcons don’t look quite as outmatched as you’d think against the Gophers.

Also, Air Force takes their first penalty – Jeff Hajner, two minutes for interference at 7:33. 

1:47pm MST – Gophers successfully kill the penalty. 

1:44pm MST – Jay Barriball takes the game’s first penalty, giving Air Force the early power play. Barriball, Tripping, 3:59. 

1:42pm MST –  Just saw that Miami won … this year has been upset central which, of course, bodes well for the boys in blue. Air Force has actually gotten some good chances, however.

 Of course, Volkening has also had to make some great saves as well.

1:39pm MST – Predictably so, Minnesota comes out strong, controlling the play.

1:35pm MST – One thing I’ve always found cool about the Air Force team is that they stand ramrod straight during the National Anthem. I also noticed that the Gophers followed their lead and were barely rocking back and forth on their skates.

Air Force also went all out, sending their band as well as some of their cheer teams along (something I haven’t seen at any of their other games this year). 

1:30pm MST – Hi all, Theresa Spisak here live from Pepsi Center in Denver, Colo., ready for the West Regional game against the No. 1-ranked University of Minnesota Golden Gophers and the No. 4-ranked Air Force Academy Fighting Falcons.

 Line-ups Gophers:


Line-up Falcons:


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