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Air Force soars past Canisius hockey

Second-seeded Air Force took a 4-0 lead after two periods and knocked off Canisius, 4-1, in the opening game of their Atlantic Hockey quarterfinal series Friday night at Cadet Ice Rink in Colorado.

Senior captain Ralph Cuddemi scored the only goal for the seventh-seeded Griffs. It was the 61st goal of his career, leaving him one shy of the school record held by Cory Conacher.

Evan Giesler scored two goals for Air Force. Ben Carey and Kyle Haak had the other goals.

The Griffs face elimination in Game Two of the best-of-three series at 9 Saturday.

“We are down 1-0 in the series but we showed last week that we aren’t finished,” Canisius coach Dave Smith said. “Air Force was the better team tonight and we need to respond with our A game tomorrow to get it to a decisive game.”

Carey opened the scoring for Air Force at the 5:32 mark of the first period.

The Falcons (19-11-5) put the game away with three goals in the second period. Giesler scored the first of two goals with 12:39 left in the period. Haak scored off a Canisius turnover with 9:22 remaining before Giesler netted his second on a rebound off a blocked shot with 4:06 left.

Cuddemi’s goal came on a power play with 18:19 left in the third period. Shane Conacher and Jimmy Mazza assisted on the goal.

The Falcons outshot Canisius, 37-23. Simon Hofley made 33 saves for the Griffs (12-21-5).