WALTHAM, Mass — Bentley scored two power-play goals early in the third period and then held off an Air Force rally for a 6-3 win in an Atlantic Hockey Association game, Sunday, Jan. 31, at the Bentley Ice Arena in Waltham, Mass.
The game was Air Force’s first in the last 22 days and Bentley’s second game in 38 days due to COVID protocols.
In the first minute of the game, Bentley forced a turnover on the Air Force breakout and took a quick 1-0 lead. Brendan Walkom’s shot slid past Falcon goalie Alex Schilling and Matt Gosiewski tapped it in 48 seconds into the game. Then in the final minute of the period, Bentley took a 2-0 lead on the rush. Luke Santerno dropped the puck for Brendan Hamblet who went high, glove side, with 54 seconds left in the opening period.
After a scoreless second period, the teams combined for seven goals in the third. Two penalties were called on Air Force late in the second period, giving Bentley a 5-on-3 power play to start the third. On the 5-on-3, Drew Bavaro scored with a slap shot from the top of the right circle just 18 seconds into the period. Then on the ensuing 5-on-4, Dylan Petra put back a rebound at 1:28 for a 4-0 lead.
Air Force (0-9-1 overall, 0-9-1 AHA) rallied for the next two goals. Air Force got on the board at 2:20 of the third period when Jake Levin redirected a shot from Alex Mehnert. The Falcons cut the Bentley lead to 4-2 when Shawn Knowlton scored his third goal in the last two games. Willie Reim forced a turnover and then Thomas Daskas found Knowlton on the back door with 9:33 remaining.
Bentley (3-5-0, 3-5-0 AHA) ended Air Force’s momentum with a goal at 13:51. On the rush, Gosiewski made a centering pass to Walkom for a 5-2 lead. With 3:45 remaining, Air Force pulled the goalie for the extra attacker and Max Harper scored his first of the season. After a scrum on the wall, Harper collected the loose puck and carried it into the left circle. His wrister went off the cross bar and in to cut the Bentley lead to 5-3 with 2:08 remaining. Bentley sealed the game as Novak scored an empty-netter with 1:25 left.
Bentley outshot Air Force, 30-25, in the game. Bentley was 2-for-7 on the power play while Air Force was 0-for-4. Schilling made 24 saves while Nicholas Grabko made 22 for Bentley.
Air Force and Bentley will conclude the two-game league series on Monday, Feb. 1 at the Bentley Ice Arena. The game was originally scheduled for a 5:05 pm ET time start, but the game time was changed to 3:05 pm ET.