Air Force and Bentley slugged it out over the full 60 minutes, with Air Force scoring three times in the third to seal their second victory over Bentley on the weekend, this time 5-1.
Combined with the Air Force’s 6-1 win Friday night, it might be assumed that Air Force won these game in an absolute gallop, but both coaches, Air Force’s Frank Serratore and Ryan Soderquist for Bentley, agreed that most games were “more like 2-1 games.”
“Both nights the game could have gone either way,” Serratore said. “Friday night, we killed a penalty and we were leading 2-1. Bentley had an excellent chance to score right as the penalty ended but our goalie made a big save, we broke to the other end and scored. If he didn’t make the save the score would have been 2-2. Instead we were now up by two. That’s how this series went.”
Saturday night, Bentley came out strong from the opening faceoff.
“Despite losing Friday night, that game was a lot closer than it looked on paper and our boys were skating hard,” said Soderquist. “I am really excited by how we played for 58 of the minutes Saturday night and we can look forward to the rest of the season.”
Both teams played with an “edge” Saturday night, and the referees were obviously willing to let the teams play without blowing their whistles. Charging, elbowing, interference, roughing, shoving after the whistle and even one instance of a player dropping his gloves went without penalties.
The rough play cut down on offensive opportunities for either team, and when scoring chances came, both goalies, Shane Starrett for Air Force and Bentley’s Jayson Argue, made important saves.
Erich Jaeger got Air Force on the board first when he stuffed in a rebound at 9:18 of the first period, but Bentley had scoring chances too.
“We were getting some opportunities from their goalie after he made those saves,” Soderquist said. “But I think we were over-skating the rebounds. Also, we had four power-play opportunities and you have to get more results from there.”
Ryner Gorowsky scored Bentley’s lone goal to open the second period, but Kyle Haak matched it for Air Force with a wrister from deep in the slot that Argue had little chance of stopping.
The final period was a different game as far as Bentley is concerned, and Air Force took advantage of late lapses and scored three times in the final four minutes, getting an even-strength goal, an empty-netter, and then another goal after Argue had returned to his crease.
The win by Air Force combined with league-leader Canisius’ tie with Army puts Air Force but one point behind Canisius, with a game in hand, for first place in Atlantic Hockey.
“Now we are in control,” Serratore said. “We finish the season with two series at home and one on the road.” (Sacred Heart and AIC at home; RIT on the road.) “The key to being a champion is two things: You have to be able to win coming from behind and you saw us do that Friday night here; and, you have to be able to win on the road, and we have won seven of our last eight road games. Plus, we have a very good goalie who makes very timely saves for us. We are looking forward to home ice for our playoffs.”
Atlantic Hockey roundup
Army West Point 2, at Canisius 2 (OT)
Atlantic Hockey front-runner Canisius came back from two goals down to tie Army West Point 2-2 in Buffalo, N.Y. Dylan McLaughlin scored on a Canisius power play with 24 seconds to go in the second period and Jeff Murray scored short-handed at 4:35 of the third for the tie. Alex Wilkinson and Dominic Franco scored for the Cadets.
Sacred Heart 4, at Mercyhurst 3 (OT)
Vito Bavaro scored 1:53 into overtime as Sacred Heart beat Mercyhurst, 4-3, in Erie, Pa. The two teams had tied Friday night. Jeff Carroll, Erlich Doerksen, and Mitch Nylen scored for Sacred Heart in regulation. Taylor Best and Josh Lammon both had a goal and an assist for Mercyhurst, and Kyle Dutra also scored for the Lakers.
Robert Morris 3, RIT 1
Down 1-0 with 6:21 gone in the third period, Robert Morris scored three times before the period was over and beat RIT 3-1 in Pittsburgh. Timmy Moore opened the scoring for Robert Morris on a power play at 9:10, Kyle Horsman scored the game-winner at even strength at 13:20 and Brady Ferguson added an empty-netter at 19:17. Mike Rotolo had 38 saves for RIT. The weekend split with RIT leaves Robert Morris in third place, two points ahead of Army West Point.