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Air Force, Vermont make NCAA East final

by John Kreiser
Chalk up one for the underdogs at the NCAA Hockey Tournament.

Andrew Volkening made 43 saves, and Derrick Burnett and Jacques Lamoureux scored in fourth-seeded Air Force's 2-0 victory over top-seeded Michigan on Friday in the first round of the NCAA hockey East Regional at Bridgeport, Conn.

Air Force (28-10-2), which made the tournament for the third consecutive season, will face third-seeded Vermont Saturday night in the regional final after the first tournament victory in school history. The third-seeded Catamounts knocked off second-seeded Yale 4-1 in the second game at the Arena at Harbor Yards. Saturday's winner advances to the Frozen Four at the Verizon Center in Washington on April. 9.

Michigan, the No. 1 seed in the region and playing in its 19th consecutive NCAA Tournament, finished the season 29-12-0.

The Falcons, champions of the Atlantic Hockey Association and the 14th seed in the 16-team field, managed only 13 shots, the fourth-fewest in tournament history, but made two of them count.

After Michigan failed to score on a 79-second 5-on-3 advantage early in the opening period, Burnett opened the scoring on a power play with 4:42 remaining, beating Bryan Hogan with a wrist shot from the right circle that caught the top left corner. It was only the third shot of the game for the Falcons.

Lamoureux, a finalist for the Hobey Baker Trophy as college hockey's top player, made it 2-0 at 7:02 of the second. The sophomore forward took a pass from Matt Fairchild just outside the crease, and sliding the puck past Hogan for his 33rd goal of the season, tops among all Division I scorers.

Volkening did the rest, making 16 saves in the first and third periods for his third consecutive shutout, including two in the conference tournament. He hasn't allowed a goal in 218 minutes.

"Defensively we were all over them but you got to give them credit, they kept coming and Volkening was there to keep the pucks out," Lamoureux said. Michigan was blanked for the fifth time this season and the first time in 71 NCAA tournament games.

"Our game plan was to keep them outside, put them wide and defend away from the puck," Falcons coach Frank Serratore said. "We knew they were going to get shots, but we knew if they scored we wanted it to be one-shot goals. Getting second shots on Volkening is hard, but my hat is off to the guys."

The Wolverines outshot Air Force 16-3 in the first period, 16-5 in the third and 43-13 overall, but were scoreless on seven power plays and got few second chances.

"This was a disappointing loss for our team," Michigan coach Red Berenson said. "We expected a tough game and got one. This was not an upset. This was a very tough Air Force team. They held on to the lead. Congratulations to them. Give their team a lot of credit."

Berenson said his team didn't take Air Force lightly, though the Falcons play in a less-respected conference.

"We were very prepared," he said. "This was not an upset; this was not a surprise. Our team was focused and we worked very hard. I think from time to time I think they realize that this team is really good. When we did get our moments, we needed to put the puck in the goal."

Material from wire services and school online media was used in this report


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