When Brendan Walkom scored at 12:15 of the second period, he probably couldn’t have imagined the goal would be a difference maker.
But when Air Force was whistled for penalty less than a minute later and Matt Gosiewski scored on the power play at 13:46, the game’s complexion had changed.
When that same duo added two empty-net goals late in the third period, hosts Bentley had earned a 7-3 victory over Air Force and advanced from the first round of the Atlantic Hockey playoffs.
Win and advance! Bentley takes down Air Force, 7-3, in the AHA 1st round and will advance to a best-of-3 quarterfinal series at AIC., Walkom and Gosiewski each score 2 for winners!! #BentleyU #BeAForce #AtlanticHockey pic.twitter.com/4UorNoJZfb
— Bentley Hockey (@BentleyHockey) March 10, 2021
Bentley will face AIC, the top seed in the eastern pod and the team with the best overall record in Atlantic Hockey, in a best-of-three series beginning in Springfield on Friday.
Visiting Air Force scored very early – just 20 seconds in – on a Willie Reim unassisted goal. But that was where the major highlights ended for the visitors.
Bentley scored the next three goals, all before the opening frame ended.
Late power plays created by a minor to Bentley’s Matt Clark and a major cross-checking penalty to Charlie Marchand gave Air Force its chance to close the gap.
The visitors scored on a 5-on-3 power play by Brandon Koch at 17:39 of the first and then, still with the man advantage evened the game on Max Harper’s tally at 2:10 of the second.
From there, though, it was all Bentley. Goaltender Nicolas Grabko was solid making 28 saves, including all 14 while protecting the lead in the third.