It took over a third of the season, but the Wayne State Warriors (1-9-2, 1-4-1 CHA) finally got in the left column as they split a two-game set with the Air Force Academy Falcons at the Cadet Arena in Colorado Springs, CO.
After numerous close calls this season, the Warriors would not be denied the win on Friday night and skated away with a hard fought 4-3 victory.
Wayne State out shot Air Force 21-9 in the first period and by the 16:18 mark, led 2-0 on goals by Mike Forgie and Stavros Paskaris.
Air Force came back and tied the score at two, but the Warriors got a power-play marker off the stick of freshman Jon Grabarek to retake the lead at 4:51 of the second.
The Cadets took advantage of a 5-on-3 edge and tied the score with Dexter native, Eric Ehn’s second goal of the night at 9:40.
Grabarek wasn’t done though as he set up defenseman Dan Illiakis on the power-play at 14:01 to give the Warriors their first win since March 5th of last season.
Senior Matt Kelly (pictured above) was between the pipes for the Green and Gold and stopped 30 of 33 shots for his 21st career win in a Warrior sweater. Canton’s Peter Foster saved 35 shots in the loss for Air Force.
The Warriors got into a shoot-out in Saturday’s finale and although they trailed 7-2 in the third, they fought back and lost by a 7-6 final score.
Eric Ehn led the Falcons again with a pair of goals and assisted on two more including Josh Schaffer’s eventual game winner at 2:48 of the third period.
Wayne State fought back with four-straight markers by Derek Punches, Stavros Paskaris, Nate Higgins, and finally Jason Bloomingburg to make it a one-goal game with 1:40 left in the contest.
The Warriors couldn’t squeak the tying goal past Falcons goalie Ian Harper, who finished the night with 22 saves.
Matt Kelly started the game for Wayne State, but was replaced after giving up 5 goals in 21 shots. Will Hooper manned the net for the last 24:52 and gave up 2 goals on 16 shots to take the loss and drop his personal record to 0-5-0 on the year.
After sitting out a game for fighting in the Union series, Jason Baclig made his return to the Warrior line-up and pitched in three assists. Higgins and Paskaris also chipped in a pair of goals each.
The Warriors will play their final two home games of 2005 this weekend when the host Hockey East’s Merrimack Warriors at the Coliseum in Detroit. Last season the two teams spilt a pair of games in North Andover, Mass.
Saturday’s post-game will also feature "Skate with the Warriors" after the game and each fan will also get a free team picture card that can be used for autographs. Youth hockey participants will receive free admission by wearing their team jersey.
The Wayne State Athletic Department will also be collecting toys for the annual "Toys for Tots" drive at these games and fans that bring a new, unwrapped toy will receive free admission to the game.