December 27, 2013

Atlantic Hockey: Holy Cross heading to Yawkey Way

By Allen Lessels

Junior forward Jake Youso and the Crusaders head to Fenway with a 2-2-1 record in their last five games. (Photo: Dave Arnold/New England Hockey Journal)

Atlantic Hockey compatriots Bentley and Holy Cross ramp things up and add a little spice to their rivalry when they square off on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. at the home of the World Champion Red Sox as part of Frozen Fenway festivities.

Count Castan Sommer, a Holy Cross sophomore forward from Shrewsbury, Mass., as one of those looking forward to the special contest.

He’ll be skating in the first game he attends at the old ballyard.

“I’ve never actually been there to see a game,” he said.

It’s not only one of those mark-your-calendar affairs for players, coaches and fans, it’s big in the standings for Bentley and Holy Cross as they attempt to get the second semester off to a good start.

Both teams have high hopes for the stretch run.

Bentley is on its way to bouncing back from a tough 2012-13 season.

The Falcons finished in 10th place with a 10-14-3 mark in the league. They are riding a seven-game unbeaten streak at 6-0-1 into Fenway.

“They’ve been playing really well,” Sommer said. “They’re physical and fast and making a lot of plays and they’re tough to play against. It’s going to be a good test.”

The most recent win for each team came against a touted Hockey East team.

Bentley got a couple of assists from junior defenseman Steve Weinstein and another impressive outing from senior goalie Branden Komm in a 4-1 win at Boston University in its last game on Dec. 14.

Weinstein is the leading point-getter in the country among defensemen at 1-21-22 and is second among all players in assists.

Holy Cross knocked off Boston College, 5-4, in Conte Forum on Nov. 29 and then posted ties against Air Force, 2-2 and 3-3, the next weekend before its break.

The Crusaders won two of their three games against Bentley last season. They finished in third place in the league at 15-9-3 a year ago and are a game below .500 at 3-4-2 in the league heading into Fenway.

Bentley beat Holy Cross at home, 3-2 in overtime, on Nov. 16. Sophomore Andrew Gladiuk scored to win it 2:21 into OT.

The Falcons are averaging 3.31 goals a game overall and an even 4.00 in conference games, which is second to the 5.12 of Mercyhurst.

“They can score,” Sommer said. “That’s kind of always been their thing. But this year they haven’t been getting scored on as much either.”

Bentley is allowing 2.69 goals a game overall and 2.44 in league games, which is fourth best.

Bentley and Holy Cross play their third game of the year on Jan. 25 in Worcester. 

Player of the Week

Branden Komm, sr. G, Bentley

Komm stopped 42 shots and the Falcons knocked off Boston University, 4-2, on Dec. 14 at Agganis Arena. The BU win boosted Komm’s numbers to a .928 save percentage and 2.43 goals against average.

Games of the week

Bentley vs. Holy Cross, Saturday at Fenway Park

Bentley is unbeaten in its last seven games at 6-0-1 heading into its Frozen Fenway clash with the Crusaders. Holy Cross is 1-0-2 in its last three and comes in off a 5-4 win over Boston College followed by a pair of ties against Air Force, 2-2 and 3-3. 

Power Rankings

1. Mercyhurst (9-7-2, 7-1-0)  . . . Junior forward Mathew Zay led the Lakers and the league in scoring at the semester break at 10-16-26. Senior forward Daniel O’Donoghue was not far back at 8-16-24.  The Lakers are at Ohio State on Saturday and Sunday.  

2. Bentley (8-7-1, 6-2-1) . . . Junior defenseman Steve Weinstein had two more assists in Bentley’s 4-2 in at Boston University just before the holiday break. Weinstein improved his numbers to 1-21-22.

3. UConn (6-5-2, 5-2-1) . . . The Huskies have scored 33 goals in their 13 games overall (2.54 per contest) and have allowed the exact same number. UConn has outscored its opponents 16-9 in its eight league games.

4. Air Force (7-5-4, 4-2-3) . . . The Falcons open the second half of the season on a streak of three straight tie games. They play Northeastern on Sunday at 4 in the first round of the Ledyard Bank Classic at Dartmouth and face the host team or Providence on Monday.

5. RIT (6-7-3, 5-3-1) . . . The Tigers tied Niagara, 2-2, on Dec. 14 in their outdoors game as part of the Frozen Frontier in Rochester. Freshman goalie Mike Rotolo made 34 saves and remains unbeaten at 5-0-1.

6. Canisius (5-8-1, 4-4-1) . . . Senior forward Kyle Gibbons leads Canisius in scoring at 8-5-13. The Golden Griffins take on UMass-Lowell in the first round of the Catamount Classic at Vermont on Saturday and play the host team on Sunday.

7. Holy Cross (4-9-2, 3-4-2) . . . The Crusaders battle Bentley at Fenway Park on Saturday in a Frozen Fenway tilt. The Crusaders won’t have much time to savor that one: They get right back at it with a game at Yale on Sunday at 4.

8. AIC (3-12-0, 3-6-0) . . . The Yellow Jackets were outscored 12-2 in a pair of games at Maine to close out the first semester. They are off this weekend and return to action with home games against Air Force on Jan. 3 and 4.

9. Niagara (3-11-2, 3-4-2) . . . Eighteen Purple Eagles had at least one goal at the semester break. Senior forward Ryan Rashid scored the tying goal against RIT in the Frozen Frontier game and leads Niagara in goals at 5-4-9.

10. Sacred Heart (4-12-0, 3-7-0) . . . The Pioneers play UConn in the first round of the Toyota UConn Hockey Classic on Sunday. Massachusetts vs. Quinnipiac is the other first-round matchup.

11. Army (3-12-0, 3-8-0) . . . The Black Knights dropped a home game to Providence, 4-1, on Dec. 20. They are off this weekend and then have four more home games. Mercyhurst is at West Point on Jan. 3 and 4 and Air Force arrives for games on Jan. 10 and 11.

12. Robert Morris (2-10-2, 2-5-1) . . . Linemates Colin South, Zac Lynch and Cody Wydo each had a goal and assist in a 5-5 tie with Mercyhurst. The Colonials play Penn State on Friday and either Bowling Green or Boston College on Saturday in the Three Rivers Classic. 

Twitter: @AllenLessels