The Matchup: The Bentley Falcons get the 2nd half of the season underway when they visit Colorado to take on the Air Force Falcons in a two game Atlantic Hockey series beginning on Saturday. The puck drops on Saturday's game at 9:05 ET, and Sunday's game is at 7:05 ET. Both games can be seen live on EverSport.
Bentley will open the 2nd half with a 7-8-2 overall record and 5-4-2 mark in Atlantic Hockey for 12 points. That puts them in a tie for 3rd with Mercyhurst, putting both teams 7 points behind 1st place Holy Cross and Robert Morris. Bentley though has played two fewer AHC games than the Crusaders and three fewer than the Colonials.
Air Force will enter the series with a 4-4-2 mark in the AHC for 10 points, putting them in a tie with Army West Point in 7th place. The western Falcons are 6-8-2 overall. They last played almost a month ago, splitting at home against Canisius with a 3-2 win and 4-2 defeat.
Follow the Games: This weekend's games can be seen live on EverSport. The cost for a day pass is $6.99, while the cost for a season pass is $99. Visit this page to sign up.
In addition, live stats can be found on Bentleyfalcons.com, and live game updates are on Twitter @BentleyFalcons.
Last Time Out: Bentley closed out the first half against rival Holy Cross at the JAR. The teams played to a 1-1 draw in the series opener, followed by a tough 2-1 defeat in overtime the following night. In the first game, Holy Cross took a 1-0 lead at 6:23 of the 2nd period, but Bentley tied it at 5:02 of the 3rd on a goal by defenseman Chris Buchanan, his first of the season.
In the 2nd game, defenseman Billy Eiserman gave the Falcons a 1-0 lead at 18:15 of the 2nd period. Holy Cross finally tied it with just 4:40 remaining, ending goalie Gabe Antoni's shutout bid. The Crusaders then won it just 1:09 into the extra session on a goal by Mike Barrett.
Antoni in December: Senior goalie Gabe Antoni had a strong December for the Falcons. He helped the team to a 2-2-1 overall record, starting each game. He started the month with his 1st career shutout, 1-0 over AIC on Dec. 1 with 30 saves. Antoni also had two games where he allowed just one goal. A 3-1 win over Niagara Dec. 5 where he only allowed an extra attacker goal with 59 seconds left, and a 1-1 tie with Holy Cross Dec. 11 with 29 saves.
His numbers for the month were a .937 save percentage and a minuscule 1.77 GAA.
Goalies Rank Highly: On the season, Antoni is 2nd in Atlantic Hockey in save percentage (.925) and 3rd in GAA (2.39). His teammate Jayson Argue is also up there. The sophomore is tops in save percentage (.941) and 2nd in GAA (2.38). Argue hasn't played since a Nov. 13 win at RIT.
Top Ranked D: Bentley has Atlantic Hockey's top ranked defense, as the Falcons allow just 2.53 goals per game. The team also claims the league's top ranked penalty kill at 86.2% (50-58).
Atlantic Hockey Ranks: Bentley enters the 2nd half with two players in the top-10 in Atlantic Hockey in scoring with Max French and Kyle Schmidt. French is t-6th with 19 points (10g, 9a) and is averaging 1.46 points per game, good for 8th nationally.
Schmidt is t-9th in Atlantic Hockey with 16 points (7g, 9a). Line mate Andrew Gladiuk gives Bentley three players in the top-20 in scoring, as the senior is t-17th with 14 points (6g, 8a).
Series History: Air Force has a 22-10-6 lead in the all-time series. While Air Force controlled the series in its early years, Bentley has had the upper hand lately. In the last eight games covering four seasons, Bentley has lost just once and has a 4-1-3 record. Bentley swept two games at the JAR last season by scores of 2-1 and 4-1.
Bentley hasn't lost in Colorado since 2009, and is 2-0-2 in its last four games at Cadet Ice Arena. In the 2013-14 series, Bentley won the opening game 4-2 behind two Brett Switzer goals, and tied the 2nd game 2-2. In the 2011-12 series, the teams tied the first game 2-2, but Bentley took the 2nd game 2-1 behind a 3rd period power play goal by Switzer.
Among active Bentley players, Andrew Gladiuk leads in scoring against Air Force with three goals and three assists in six career games.
Up Next: Bentley travels to Robert Morris next week for the 2nd straight season. The teams split a tightly contested series in Pittsburgh last season with the Colonials winning the first game 3-0 and Bentley the second 1-0 behind a goal by Max French and 29 saves by Jayson Argue for the shutout. Robert Morris is currently tied for 1st place in Atlantic Hockey with 19 points. The Colonials are playing Dartmouth and Union this weekend at the Ledyard Classic in New Hampshire.