WATERTOWN, Mass. – AIC junior Blake Peake scored an empty-net, shorthanded goal with 1.3 seconds left in overtime to give the Yellow Jackets a 4-3 victory over Bentley University in the regular season finale. As a result, the Falcons will go on the road to Canisius next weekend for the first round of the Atlantic Hockey playoffs.
AIC rallied from a 3-1 deficit in the third period to send the game into overtime tied at three. In the extra session, both teams aggressively went for the win by pulling their respective goalies. AIC's Ben Meisner was pulled first with 22 seconds remaining, until Jeff Ceccacci was whistled for boarding with 12 seconds to go.
Falcons goalie Branden Komm (Williamsville, N.Y./Northfield Mount Hermon) was then pulled with the face-off in Bentley's offensive zone. However, AIC won the face-off, Peake gained possession of the puck and launched a shot from inside the zone that slid into the empty net right before time expired to give them the win.
Bentley will now enter the postseason as the 10th seed and will take on the Golden Griffins in Buffalo. The Falcons swept the season series in Watertown in mid-January, winning by scores of 3-2 in overtime and 7-2.
After a scoreless first period, Bentley got on the board first at the 1:47 mark of the second period on junior Andrew Fitzstephens (Schoolcraft, Mich./Bay State Breakers) second goal of the year, from Brett Gensler (St. Charles, Mo./Youngstown Phantoms). Gensler and Fitzstephens had a two-on-one down the ice, and Gensler fed Fitzstephens a centering pass that he buried past Meisner.
After AIC tied the game at one late in the second period on a goal by Alex MacMillian, Bentley took the lead back at 7:29 of the third period on a goal by defenseman Zach Marginsky (Auburn, N.Y./Syracuse Stars). Marginsky skated into the offensive zone all alone, and ripped a shot past Meisner from the point for a 2-1 Bentley lead.
A power play goal from sophomore Brett Switzer (Calgary, Alberta/Spruce Grove Saints) 1:20 later gave the Falcons a 3-1 lead. Gensler had the assist, his 40th point of the season, becoming just the second player in school history to record consecutive 40 point seasons.
But just 22 seconds after Switzer's goal, AIC began to rally on a goal by junior Jon Puskar, who roofed a beautiful shot past a screened Komm into the upper left corner of the net. The Yellow Jackets then tied the game at three on a goal by Brandon Fagerheim at 16:25.
Bentley closes out the regular season with a record of 12-18-3 overall and 10-14-3 in Atlantic Hockey. AIC improves to 12-15-6 overall and 9-12-6 in the conference.
Game one of Bentley's series with Canisius will be Friday night at 7:05 pm.