AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. – Junior Brett Switzer (Calgary, Alberta/Spruce Grove Saints) scored two goals, including the winner in the third period, and senior goalie Branden Komm (Williamsville, N.Y./Northfield Mount Hermon) made 30 saves as Bentley University defeated Air Force 4-2 in the opening game of an Atlantic Hockey series Friday night.
Switzer's second goal of the night at 16:16 of the third period broke a 2-2 tie and sent Bentley on its way to a third straight win and fourth in its last five games. Senior Justin Breton (Fitchburg, Mass./Boston Jr. Bruins) sealed the victory with an empty-net goal with 34 seconds remaining to make it a 4-2 final.
Prior to Switzer's second goal the teams traded goals back-and-forth, with each team scoring once in the first two periods.
Air Force's Tony Thomas opened the scoring at 9:21 of the first period to give the home standing Falcons a 1-0 lead. But just 29 seconds later Bentley responded as sophomore Andrew Gladiuk (White Rock, B.C./Nanaimo Clippers) netted his eighth goal of the season with defenseman Steve Weinstein (Los Angeles, Calif./Vernon Vipers) getting the assist. Weinstein took a shot from the point that Gladiuk tipped in past Air Force goalie Jason Torf.
Air Force went ahead 2-1 at 9:53 of the second period on a shorthanded goal by Chad Demers. Bentley was enjoying a productive power play up to that point, but Air Force forced a turnover in Bentley's offensive zone, leading to a breakaway for Demers down the other end of the ice, which he finished off to give Air Force lead.
Bentley though again responded quickly to an Air Force goal, this time scoring just four minutes later with Switzer getting his first of the night to tie the game 2-2. Alex Grieve (Calgary, Alberta/Westside Warriors) won a face-off in the offensive zone and fed the puck to Brett Gensler (St. Charles, Mo./Youngstown Phantoms) on the point. Gensler got off a quick shot that was saved by Torf, but Switzer collected the rebound and lifted the puck past Torf for the goal.
The game went under the four minute mark of the third period still tied 2-2 until Switzer put Bentley in front with 3:44 remaining. Switzer's goal came on the heels of a great diving save across the crease by Komm during an Air Force power play to preserve the tie until Switzer scored.
Air Force pulled Torf with 1:44 remaining, but to no avail as Breton scored from Bentley's blue line on the empty-net.
Bentley improves to 5-7 overall and 4-2 in Atlantic Hockey play with the win, while Air Force drops to 7-5-1 and 4-2. Game two of the series is Saturday night at 9:05 ET.