Billy Christopoulos made 31 saves for Air Force but his counterpart, Bentley’s Jayson Argue did him one better, making 28 saves and blanking AFA, 2-0, for a Atlantic Hockey Conference victory in the penultimate game at the John A. Ryan (JAR) Arena.
As he has all season, Christopoulos kept his team in the game on a night the offense struggled to generate quality chances. The loss was both the first in five overall games (3-1-1) and in five road games (4-1) for AFA (14-12-4, 9-10-3 AHC)
After a fast-paced first period, the pace slowed considerably in the second after Bentley’s Luke Santerno scored 2:42 in after a scramble in front of Christopoulos. Bentley’s 14-8 shots on goal edge in the second summed things up.
“”I didn’t think we played very well for the first two periods. We were lucky to get out of them down only 1-0,” AFA coach Frank Serratore said. “Billy Christopoulos was again our best player. Our determination on the puck, we’ve got to stop on pucks, we’ve got to win battles.”
Jake Kauppila added an empty-net goal with 1:13, just seconds after Christopoulos went off for an extra attacker, to ensure Bentley’s four victory in a row.
The triumph moved Bentley (11-13-6, 8-11-5 AHC) into an eighth-place tie with Air Force in the league standings. It was Bentley’s first shutout of the season, while it marked the third time this season AFA was blanked.
“You’re either the bug or you’re the windshield,” Serratore said. “We weren’t very good vs. AIC last weekend and we weren’t very good tonight. Our third period was pretty good.
“If our sense of urgency and determination is going to be reactive, we’re in trouble. … Some things have got to change, and have got to change in a hurry or we’re not long for this season.”
The long and winding road
Just getting to Watertown, Mass., proved to be an ordeal for Air Force.
The team departed Wednesday afternoon from Colorado Springs. A winter storm forced the team’s plane to divert to Pittsburgh. The team’s gear was bused to the JAR, while the team flew in Thursday.
After games Friday and Saturday, the Falcons will bus to Hamden, Conn. on Sunday in advance of Tuesday’s 10 a.m. (MST) make-up game vs. Sacred Heart at Quinnipiac University. The Sacred Heart game, scheduled for Cadet Arena on Jan. xx, was postponed due to the government shutdown.
AFA killed off both of its penalties, building its recent success rate to 36 of 38. The power play, obviously, was blanking, going 0 for 3. … Junior center Kyle Haak, who points in three consecutive games, did not play. Defenseman Joe Tyran skated at forward with fellow sophomores Erich Jaeger and Pierce Pluemer.
Air Force’s three stars
- Billy Christopoulos. Did everything he could to keep it close, making 31 saves in the process.
- Dylan Abood. The captain delivered a stirring second intermission message and his teammates responded with a good third period.
- Joe Tyran. The defenseman by trade had a team-high three shots and blocked two while playing at forward.
The teams play again Saturday at 3:05 p.m. MST in the final Bentley game at the JAR. AM 1300 and GoAirForceFalcons.com will have the broadcast.