Scouting Air Force (14-11-4, 9-9-3 AHC) at Bentley (10-13-6, 7-11-5 AHC)
Friday at 5:05 p.m. MST, Saturday at 3:05 p.m. MST
Radio / TV: AM 1300 and GoAirForceFalcons.com / AtlanticHockey.tv (subscription)
Series: Air Force leads, 26-12-6, and won three of four last season.
Say good-bye to the JAR, boys. This will be the final series in Bentley’s infamous home rink, John A. RIley Arena, known as the Jar. The Falcons have gone 12-5-1 there and won twice last season. … All four of last season’s games featured at least five goals by the winning team, and every margin of victory was three or more. These are the only meetings of the season between the teams.
Air Force update
The Falcons have been rolling in the new year (6-2-1) and in recent road AHC games (5-0-1). A resurgent penalty kill (34 of its past 36) and junior Billy Christopoulos (just 12 goals allowed in the past nine games) are the biggest reasons why. Christopoulos has two shutouts in the past six games. He has allowed more than three goals just four times. … Forwards Evan Giesler (18 points and eight goals), Erik Baskin (17 and 12) and Matt Serratore (15 and 10) are leading the offense up front. The return from injuries of Tyler Ledford and Jordan Himley (14 points apiece) also helps, as does having defensemen Phil Boje and Matt Koch (12 each) back. … Beyond them, senior Ben Kucera has points in five of his past seven games and junior Kyle Haak, another injury casualty who is back, has points in three consecutive games after having just three in this first 17 games. … This starts a stretch of five games in nine days for the Falcons, who play Sacred Heart in a makeup game at Quinnipiac on Tuesday mid-day, then play host to Canisius next Friday and Saturday.
After a rough start in AHC play, Bentley has come on – sweeping RIT on the road after splitting with first-place Canisius. Leading scorer Kyle Schmidt (24 points, 12 goals) had four goals in that stretch, including a hat trick in the second game at RIT. Fellow forward Jonathan Desbiens tallied three of his 10 goals in that span. Forward Drew Callin also has 24 points (18 assists) and freshman Luke Santerno has 23 points. … Sophomore Aidan Pelino (8-8-2) has played more games in net, and has 3.13 and .901 numbers, but senior Jayson Argue (2-4-4) has a 2.94 gaa and .907 save percentage. … Bentley scores the same amount of goals per game Air Force does (2.69), but it allows 3.14, far more than AFA’s 2.48.
How it could go down
It’s strength on strength on special teams when Bentley’s power play (22.1 percent, 14th in D-I) rolls out against AFA’s penalty kills (84 percent, 11th). Air Force as the ingredients (good goaltending and defense) to win road games as long as it gets enough timely goals, but recent history suggests these could be goal-fests. AFA needs at least three points out of this weekend, but expect a fired up Bentley crew hoping to give the Jar a merry send-off.
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