By Dave Toller
Sean Bertsch scored two goals as Air Force beat American International College 6-2 in an Atlantic Hockey Association game Saturday night at the Academy’s Cadet Ice Arena.
Air Force swept the two-game league series, having defeated AIC 5-3 Dec. 4.
With the win, Air Force remained in a tie for first place in the AHA with the Rochester Institute of Technology. The Falcons improved to 8-5-3 overall and 8-1-3 in the conference and extended their unbeaten streak to nine games (6-0-3). AIC fell to 2-12-1 overall and 2-10-1 in the conference.
Air Force jumped to a 2-0 lead in the first period with an even-strength goal and a power play goal. Derrick Burnett scored on a centering pass by Jacques Lamoureux 62 seconds into the game. Scott Mathis kept the puck in the zone at the right point to start the play. The Falcons added a power-play goal at 14:17. Burnett was on the goal line and found Tim Kirby in the high slot. Kirby’s blast was re-directed by Lamoureux at the top of the crease.
Early in the second period, Air Force took a 3-0 lead on a goal by Blake Page. Sean Bertsch won a faceoff, and Matt Becker fed Brandon Johnson at the left point. Johnson’s slap shot was tipped by Page for his second goal of the season at 3:16.
Six minutes later, the Falcons took a 4-0 lead on Bertsch’s first goal of the season. Paul Weisgarber dug the puck out of a scrum in front of the net and fed Bertsch out front. Scott Kozlak also assisted on the play.
AIC got on the board at 16:51 in a four-on-four situation. The Yellow Jackets rushed through the neutral zone and got into the Air Force zone. Mike Little controlled the puck on the half boards and drew three Air Force players to him. He centered the puck to a wide open Steve McLeod who beat Andrew Volkening to make the score 4-1.
AIC started the third period on the power play, but it was Air Force that scored. Bertsch skated into the AIC zone, beat a defenseman and scored short-handed 44 seconds into the period. Midway through the period, Johnson scored his first career goal at the 7:30 mark for a 6-1 lead. Page and Lamoureux assisted on Johnson’s blue-collar goal right in front of the AIC goal. With 11:45 remaining in the game, Volkening was taken out of the game, giving way to freshman David Bosner for his first collegiate appearance. AIC cut the Air Force lead to 6-2 at the 15:01 mark when Adam Pleskach scored.
Air Force outshot AIC, 37-22. The Falcons had a 16-4 shot advantage in the second period and were 1-for-4 on the power play, while AIC was 0-for-3. Volkening earned the win, making 14 saves. Bosner played the final 11:45 and had six saves. AIC goalie Ben Meisner had 31 saves.
“We dominated the game from the beginning to the end,” head coach Frank Serratore said. “Our special teams were good and I couldn’t be happier with our performance. We won last night and we won tonight but I’m a lot happier tonight. That is the way we have to play if we are going to win.”
Air Force concludes the first half of its season next weekend with a home series against Mercyhurst tonight and tomorrow at 7:05 p.m. each night at the Cadet Ice Arena.