HANOVER, N.H. - Braden Pimm scored twice, but the No. 16 Northeastern men's ice hockey team (10-6-2) was held to a season-low 16 shots as Air Force (8-5-4) topped the Huskies at the Ledyard National Bank Classic on Sunday afternoon at Thompson Arena, 5-2.
Clay Witt made 24 saves for the Huskies, who will face either Dartmouth or No. 5 Providence in the consolation game on Monday at 4 p.m. The Falcons received two goals from Mitch Torell, while Jason Torf made 14 stops. NU was outshot 29-16 in the game and the Huskies were 1-of-3 on the power play while holding Air Force to an 0-of-5 showing on the man advantage.
The Falcons came out in the first period throwing everything on the net, outshooting NU 15-4 and taking a 2-1 lead into intermission. Air Force went up 1-0 with 12:18 remaining in the frame when the Falcons capitalized on a failed clear by the Huskies in the defensive zone. Alex Halloran began the play by dishing to Jason Fabian stationed below the goal line. Fabian then fed Mitch Torrel with a pass in the slot for a one-timer that beat Witt.
The early Air Force goal breathed life into the Huskies, who began to generate several scoring chances following the Torrel tally. Cody Ferriero nearly knotted the score at one midway through the stanza when he flew down the ice to negate an icing call before rifling across the goal line. Minutes later, Pimm took a big hit in the offensive zone to allow Kevin Roy to gather the loose puck and try to hit John Stevens with a pass on the right side.
With Northeastern on the power play with less than seven minutes left in the period, the Huskies leveled the score at one when Pimm netted his ninth goal of the season just six seconds into the man advantage. Following a face-off win by Stevens, Mike Szmatula sent a pass onto the stick of Pimm in front. Pimm then maintained his composure by taking the puck along to his backhand before tucking it inside the right post and past Torf for the score.
Air Force continued to pepper Witt with shots as the frame wore on, and Scott Holm almost put the Falcons ahead with 2:53 left in the first when he ripped a shot from the slot that Witt got a glove on. Air Force would strike again in the final minute of play when Cole Gunner snuck a shot under the pad of Witt on a wraparound at the right post for his sixth of the season with 15.1 seconds remaining in the period.
The Falcons held a slight 6-4 edge in shots during a second period that saw each squad take three penalties and Air Force go up by two through 40 minutes of play. NU's best chance of the frame came early on when Roy provided a nice outlet pass to Dalen Hedges exiting the zone, creating a two-on-one with Ferriero. Hedges hit Ferriero with a pass in the offensive zone before being tripped up and knocking the net off its pegs before Ferriero could send a shot on goal.
Air Force would take a 3-1 lead with 8:16 left in the period when Ben Carey hammered home a loose puck for his fourth goal of the year. After receiving a pass from Halloran, Tony Thomas sent in a low shot from inside the point that got knocked down on its way toward goal. Carey then collected the puck and sent it past Witt before he could recover.
The Huskies would bring it back to within one in the opening minutes of the third period as Pimm netted his second of the afternoon on a great individual effort. After Matt Benning took a pass from Dax Lauwers, Pimm took the puck, stickhandled through a defenseman before ripping a shot through traffic and under the glove of Torf to make it 3-2.
The Falcons, however, would regain its two-goal edge less than two minutes after the Pimm goal as Torell buried a rebound for his second of the game. After Witt stopped an initial shot from Johnny Hrabovsky at the point, the rebound popped out in front of the crease where Torell cleaned up the mess before an NU defender could clear.
NU continued to create chances in hopes of cutting into the deficit, and Hedges and Roy nearly did just that when Hedges hit a cutting Roy with a pass from behind the net, but Torf was there to make the big save. Northeastern would pull Witt in favor of the extra skater with 3:26 left in regulation, but Scott Holm would add an empty netter to give Air Force a 5-2 advantage late.