USAFA, Colo. – Air Force got the go-ahead goal 39 seconds into the 3rd period, and hung on the rest of the way for a narrow 2-1 win over Bentley in game two of the Atlantic Hockey quarterfinals to eliminate the Falcons in two games.
Air Force got the eventual game-winner from forward Ben Kucera early in the 3rd period, after a 2nd period that saw Bentley get a tying goal from junior Andrew McDonald (New Brighton, Minn./Fargo), and the Falcon penalty kill successfully killing off a large chunk of a five-minute major penalty.
Air Force advanced on to Rochester for the Atlantic Hockey semifinals next weekend, while Bentley's season comes to an end.
Air Force hanging on in the 3rd period involved them killing off four minutes of a five minute major penalty for contact to the head. With a Bentley player already in the box for a penalty at 8:38, Air Force was given a major penalty one minute later. That gave the Falcons, trailing 2-1, a golden opportunity to come up with the tying goal, however the Air Force PK and goalie Shane Starrett denied them.
In the final minute, Bentley goalie Aidan Pelino (Oakville, Ontario/Chilliwack), who ended the night with 37 saves, was unable to get off the ice until the final 20 seconds, and by that point there wasn't enough time for them to mount an attack with the extra-attacker on the ice.
Air Force got the game's first goal, which came from left wing Jordan Himley, unassisted at 5:59 of the 1st period.
In the 2nd period, Bentley got the tying goal from McDonald at 10:10, assisted by Drew Callin (Middleton, Wisc./Janesville) and Brett Orr (Elkhorn, Manitoba/Portage). Orr got the goal started by feeding Callin into the offensive zone, who put a shot on Starrett that was turned away. McDonald though cycled to the front of the net and deposited in the rebound to even the game 1-1.
Pelino was sharp in the 2nd period, as he stopped all 18 Air Force shots and helped Bentley's PK stop Air Force's extended power play.
Air Force though got the go-ahead goal from Kucera 39 seconds after the opening face-off of the 3rd period, to put them back in front, 2-1.
Air Force joined Canisius and Robert Morris as teams who have advanced to Rochester, while either Army West Point or Mercyhurst will be the 4th team.