COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.
Such was the case for Air Force sophomore Steve Mead, who scored a fluke goal off a Bentley defender and added two assists, leading the service academy to a 5-2 win in a battle of the Falcons Friday night.
The game, played in front of 1,384 at the Cadet Ice Arena, improved Air Force’s record to 5-0-1 in home openers under head coach Frank Serratore.
“We worked hard tonight,” said Serratore, whose team is now 2-3. “It seemed like every time they got a goal, we got the next one.”
After Bentley’s Andy Peters notched his second goal of the season to cut Air Force’s lead to 3-1 early in the second period, Mead responded. The product of Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass. (less than 30 miles away from Bentley’s campus in Waltham), fired a slapshot that bounced high off a defender and over the head of goaltender Simon St. Pierre, who lost sight of the puck.
Air Force, which had notched just one first-period goal in four games coming into tonight, lit the lamp three times in a 1:50 span late in the opening frame. That gave netminder Mike Polidor all the support he would need, as the junior stopped 19 shots.
“[Polidor] was very good, no doubt,” said Serratore. “[Bentley] is a much improved team from last year.”
Andy Berg opened the scoring 14:44 into the contest, when his power-play wrister beat a screened St. Pierre top-shelf for his sixth goal of the season. Just over a minute later, Matt Bader gave the home team a two-goal cushion, redirecting a Brook Turnquist shot from the point.
Bentley, however, had not weathered the storm, as just 42 seconds after Bader’s goal, Shane Saum flicked a rebound past St. Pierre for what proved to be the game-winning tally.
Despite Mead’s fortuitous goal giving Air Force a three-goal lead after two periods, Bentley would not roll over. The visiting Falcons again cut Air Force’s lead to two early in the third period shortly after killing off a power play. Paul Markarian tallied the goal for Bentley, which came on a 3-on-1 rush.
“When we have breakdowns, we don’t go for the little ones,” Serratore said. “We’ve got to play smarter in a lot of ways.”
Fortunately for Air Force, Polidor, who came into the contest with a 6.52 goals against average, was able to keep Bentley scoreless the rest of the way.
The home team notched an insurance goal with 13 minutes remaining, as Carson Strang skated across the blue line and left the puck for Justin Hamilton, who fired a one-timer past St. Pierre for his first point of the season.
St. Pierre, who set a school record last year for saves and already had 67 in two games coming into Friday, stopped 25 shots in the loss as Bentley fell to 1-2.