WATERTOWN, Mass. – The Bentley Falcons suffered the definite low point of the year with two losses to Atlantic Hockey rival Sacred Heart last weekend, and they needed to answer the bell.
On Friday night at John A. Ryan Skating Arena, the Falcons provided that answer emphatically, scoring two goals in each of the first two periods en route to a 5-1 victory over American International (10-22-1, 9-16-1).
“I was very pleased with the way we responded from last week,” Bentley coach Ryan Soderquist (Stoneham, Mass.) said. “I thought we had a good week of practice and it started there. We regrouped, and holding them to one goal was very important.”
Before the final regular-season home game at the JAR, Soderquist and the Falcons (17-12-4, 15-7-4) honored a seven-member senior class which has now compiled 53 career victories.
Brett Gensler became the career leading scorer in Atlantic Hockey history, thanks to a secondary assist on Bentley’s fourth goal of the night by his junior linemate and assistant captain Alex Grieve.
“It’s really special to be a part of such high company like that,” Gensler said of breaking Sacred Heart alum Pierre-Luc O’Brien’s league record of 158 points. “I’m honored, but I couldn’t have done it without my teammates. It’s definitely something I’ll go to sleep a little happier about, but we have a job to do in the playoffs now.”
The Yellow Jackets struck first just 3:20 in, as senior Jon Puskar beat Bentley senior Branden Komm (31 saves), thanks to a strong 2-on-1 rush with junior Alexander MacMillan.
“I thought they had a lot of good jump, high energy and created a lot of scoring opportunities for themselves,” AIC head coach Gary Wright said. “They are a particularly productive line, especially in the offensive zone.”
Although the nation’s second-best power play was unable to crack the scoreboard, Bentley did score twice unanswered before the first intermission.
At 6:36, Grieve took a shot from the center point through a large screen, beating AIC freshman Hunter Leisner (32 saves) for his 21st goal this year. Gensler put the Falcons ahead with just 17.7 seconds left in the stanza.
Bentley scored twice in the second half of the middle frame to take a 4-1 lead. At the 11:15 mark, senior assistant captain Justin Breton (Fitchburg, Mass.) popped a puck through Leisner’s from a weak angle for his second goal of the month.
Bentley took the momentum into the dressing room once again as Grieve held, fired and beat Leisner between his legs for his second of the night with 20 seconds to go in the second. Sophomore defenseman Matt Blomquist took the record-breaking pass from Gensler to set up the play.
The Falcons closed the book at with 6:01 to go as Grieve set up junior Brett Switzer for a high wrister on Leisner, his ninth of the season. With two goals and two assists on the night, Grieve notched his third multi-point game in the last five.
“Our line was buzzing all night,” Grieve said. “We put up four goals, so that’s something we’re proud of. We had good chances and good cycles.”
Boston University 4, Northeastern 1
After retiring Jack Parker’s No. 6 to the Agganis Arena rafters, the Terriers (9-20-4, 4-12-2 Hockey East) earned a big win over the crosstown rival and No. 9-ranked Huskies (18-11-4, 10-7-2) in their first head-to-head meeting of the season. Freshman Robbie Baillargeon (Enfield, Conn.) led the way with a goal and an assist for BU, while sophomore Sean Maguire made 31 saves. NU’s lone goal came off the stick of stellar senior Braden Pimm, shorthanded in the second period.
Merrimack 4, New Hampshire 2
A goal and two assists from junior Quinn Gould helped the Warriors (8-20-3, 3-14-2 Hockey East) snap a seven-game slide in the opener of a weekend series at J. Thom Lawler Arena. Senior Dalton Speelman and sophomore Brett Pesce scored for the Wildcats (18-16-1, 10-9-0).
Providence 4, Maine 2
Multi-point nights from senior Derek Army (North Kingstown, R.I.), sophomore Noel Acciari (Johnston, R.I.) and freshman Kyle McKenzie helped the Friars (18-9-6, 10-7-2 Hockey East) to a victory over the Black Bears (15-12-4, 9-7-3). Sophomore Jon Gillies (South Portland, Maine) earned his 15th win this year, and the team’s first at Alfond Arena since 2007, with 28 saves.
UMass Lowell 1, Vermont 0 (OT)
Senior Joe Houk beat the overtime buzzer, scoring with 15 seconds remaining to propel the No. 7 River Hawks (21-8-4, 11-5-3 Hockey East) to an exciting win over the Catamounts (17-12-3, 9-10-0) in Gutterson Fieldhouse. With the golden goal, UML sophomore Connor Hellebuyck gets his 10th career shutout with a 25-save performance.
Harvard 2, Colgate 1
The Crimson (10-14-4, 6-11-4 ECAC Hockey) tallied a massive victory, their second straight on the road against a ranked foe and first at Colgate’s Starr Rink since 2006, thanks to freshman Phil Zielonka’s deciding goal at 6:28 of the third period.
Quinnipiac 8, St. Lawrence 0
Junior Matthew Peca contributed to six of eight goals for the Bobcats (22-8-5, 12-6-3) as they manhandled the Saints (12-17-4, 6-11-4) at Appleton Arena, clinching a first-round bye in the ECAC. With two goals and four assists, Peca broke QU’s Division I single-game point record and became the 37th player in school history to hit 100 career points. Michael Garteig posted his sixth shutout of his sophomore year, breaking Eric Hartzell’s single-season record. For SLU, sophomore Kyle MacDonald (Hanover, Mass.) made nine saves in 25:42 of relief.
Dartmouth 1, Cornell 0
Sophomore Charles Grant made 36 saves for his second-career shutout and junior captain Tyler Sikura scored the lone goal, leading the Big Green (8-16-4, 7-12-2 ECAC Hockey) to their fifth straight game unbeaten (4-0-1). The 1-0 blanking of the No. 11 Big Red (14-8-5, 10-7-5) was Dartmouth’s first in Lynah Rink in more than 54 years.
Union 2, Yale 0
Goals from Sam Coatta and Daniel Carr lifted the third-ranked Dutchmen (23-6-4, 17-3-1 ECAC Hockey) to their 11th win in as many outings against Ivy League foes in the opener of Union’s New England weekend. Junior Colin Stevens held the No. 14 Bulldogs (14-9-5, 9-8-4) scoreless on a whopping 49 shots at Ingalls Rink.
Rensselaer 3, Brown 0
Freshman Tyler Steel made 24 saves in defeat, but surrendered two goals in the third period, as the Bears (11-14-3, 8-12-1) dropped a 3-0 decision to the Engineers (14-13-6, 8-8-5) in a key ECAC contest at Meehan Auditorium.
Connecticut 4, Sacred Heart 3 (OT)
Senior Billy Latta scored the game-tying goal with 37 seconds left in regulation and posted the winner with 42 seconds left in overtime to propel the Huskies (18-11-4, 15-8-3 Atlantic Hockey) past the in-state rival Pioneers (11-22-0, 10-16-0) at Milford Ice Pavilion. With the victory, UConn matches its highest-ever win total in league play.
Army 5, Holy Cross 2
Castan Sommer (Shrewsbury, Mass.) scored the seventh goal of his second season at Holy Cross, but the Crusaders (11-19-3, 10-13-3 Atlantic Hockey) fell to Army (5-25-0, 5-21-0) at Hart Recreation Center.