Fear must have been a good motivator for Air Force this week.
Four days after coach Frank Serratore said this weekend’s series at Bentley was one he was leery about because of Bentley’s recent resurgence and a distinct home-ice advantage at the John A. Ryan (JAR) rink, Air Force scored the final six goals in a 6-1 Atlantic Hockey rout.
Senior A.J. Reid and sophomore Kyle Haak scored two goals apiece, and freshman Brady Tomlak added a goal and an assist and Tyler Ledford chipped in two assists as Air Force (17-8-4, 14-5-2 AHC) kept pace with Canisius in the Atlantic Hockey race.
“This was a huge win,” Serratore told 1300 AM after the game. “It was a really good, consistent game for us. Despite the score, this was a sneaky, scary game. We had to overcome some of our own adversity. You never want to start a game giving up a short-handed goal. But we answered by scoring the next two.
“The turning point was when Callin came out the box and had a breakaway and (Shane) Starrett made yet another big save for us. If he doesn’t make that, this game could have easily gone the other way. This is a tough building to play in and they have a very good team. “
Bentley (9-13-5, 8-9-4 AHC) got a short-handed goal from Ryner Gorowsky with 8:21 to play in the first period, but Reid countered on the same power play just 13 seconds later. Haak gave Air Force the lead for good a little more than three minutes laster off a feed from Jordan Himley.
Air Force, which outshot Bentley 34-25, poured it on in the second period two two-goal bursts. Reid and fellow senior Tyler Rostenkowski scored just 55 seconds apart, the latter came with 11:17 to go in the period. A little more than two minutes later Haak struck on the power play and Tomlak added a tally 57 seconds later.
Starrett made 25 saves. Haak’s second goal chased Bentley starter Aidan Pelino (13 saves). Jason Argue finished with 15 saves in relief.
A total of 10 players hit the scoresheet for Air Force, including defensemen Matt Koch and Johnny Hrabovsky.
None of the Falcons’ injured regulars returned to the lineup Friday. The lengthy list included top-six forwards Matt Serratore (concussion) and Ben Kucera (upper body), who were the most likely to return. Defenseman Jonathan Kopacka appears likely to miss most or all of the rest of the season because of a broken ankle, while forward Matt Pulver had shoulder surgery this week and is done for the season.