By Debbie Juniewicz
Dayton Daily News
FAIRBORN, Ohio — The learning didn’t end when Dayton Bombers right wing Brent Walton (pictured) graduated from Western Michigan University this time last year.
“Playing in college is a lot different from playing professional hockey; the style is a lot different,” Walton said. “In college, you have a bunch of guys skating around as fast as they can. Here, it’s more positional. You need to be in the right place at the right time.”
The Bombers rookie was in the right place at the right time not once but twice Sunday as Walton scored the first two Dayton goals. The Bombers beat the Florida Everblades 3-1 in front of a Mother’s Day crowd of 1,503 at the Nutter Center and evened the American Conference Finals best-of-seven series at 2-2.
“It took some time to adjust to playing at this level,” Walton said. “I think my defensive game has come along the most and that has led to offensive opportunities.”
Walton has taken advantage of those opportunities as he is the Bombers’ playoff points leader with 14 and is sixth in the ECHL in scoring in the postseason with six goals and eight assists.
“He accepts responsibility,” Bombers coach Don MacAdam said of Walton. “His line starts almost every game, he kills off penalties and is strong on the power play and he has a positive upbeat personality. It’s a great combination.”
While Walton has learned lessons playing for the Bombers, the Bombers learned some lessons after their 4-3 loss Saturday. After giving up four power-play goals to the Everblades in the loss, the Bombers denied Florida on all five power plays on Sunday.
“We just didn’t get smoked on the face-offs,” MacAdam said. “The centers battled so much harder today, everybody did.”
Walton posted goals in the second and third periods while teammate Jeffrey Hristovski added an empty-netter to ensure the win. Florida right wing David Brine was the only Everblades skater to score for the visitors.
The Bombers have one more on home ice as they host the Everblades Tuesday at 7 p.m. With the series tied, the Bombers will make a return trip to Florida for Game 6 on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at the Germain Arena. Game 7, if necessary, will be Friday at Florida.