The Matchup: Bentley will get the 2nd half of its season underway on Friday with a trip to Vermont to take on the 13th ranked Catamounts of Hockey East for the first ever meetings between the two programs. The puck drops on Friday's game at 7:05 pm, and Saturday's New Year's Eve tilt will begin at 4:00 pm.
The Falcons finished the first half of the season with a split against Atlantic Hockey rival Robert Morris, with a 4-3 win and a 4-1 defeat. Those results pushed the team's record at the break to 3-6-3 in Atlantic Hockey and 4-8-4 overall. These two games will be the Falcons' final non-conference games of the season. They've already defeated Hockey East opponents UNH 5-1 on opening night, and tied Northeastern 1-1 at home on Oct. 14.
Vermont closed out the first half the weekend of Dec. 17, and is looking to snap a three game skid that saw defeats at home to Boston Univ. (4-0), and Union (7-3, 2-1) in non-conference action that final weekend. Prior to that though, the Cats had a seven-game unbeaten streak (6-0-1) that featured wins over BU (4-2) and Quinnipiac (5-1) at the Friendship Four in Belfast, Northern Ireland. UVM will enter the weekend 10-6-2 overall and 5-3-1 in Hockey East, which has them T-3rd.
Last Time Out: Bentley split its final series of the first half with Robert Morris at the JAR the weekend of Dec. 9-10. The Falcons won the first game 4-3 behind a big game from the Ryner Gorowsky-Max French-Kyle Schmidt line. French had two big 3rd period goals, one on the power play at 1:45 to give Bentley a 3-1 lead, and an empty-net goal with 52 seconds left. Gorowsky scored the game's first goal, just 3:51 into the opening period, and also had assists on Mike Berry's goal and French's empty-netter. Schmidt had three assists.
RMU though turned the tables the next night, and came away with a 4-1 win. Bentley's goal came from Drew Callin at 16:05 of the 3rd period.
Statistical Leaders: Through 16 games in the first half, French leads the team in goals (7), assists (11) and points (18). Schmidt is 2nd on the team in both goals (6) and points (12), while Gorowsky is 2nd in assists (7) and 3rd in points (10), despite only playing in 8 games.
In net, Jayson Argue has stated 15 of 16 games. He's 5th in Atlantic Hockey in minutes played (856), and has the 6th best save percentage in the conference (.914).
Gorowsky Nabs 2nd Rookie Award: Ryner Gorowsky was named the Atlantic Hockey Rookie of the Week for the 2nd straight week on Dec. 13, after his 1 goal, 2 assist outing in the win over Robert Morris on Dec. 9. He earned the award the week prior after he went for 1 goal and 3 assists in the series at Canisius the weekend of Dec. 2-3.
Gorowsky has made a quick impact since returning to the ice on Nov. 19 vs. Mercyhurst after he missed seven straight games. In his six games back, he has 3 goals and 6 assists, and his five-game point streak from Nov. 19-Dec. 9 was tied for the longest by a Bentley player this season (French, Oct. 8-Oct. 22).
Bentley vs. Hockey East: The Falcons have experienced a good amount of success against Hockey East opponents in recent seasons. The 5-1 win over UNH to begin the season marked the 7th time in the last 9 seasons Bentley has beaten an HEA school. The others were Maine (2008-09), UMass-Amherst (2009-10), Northeastern (2010-11, 2012-13, 2015-16) and Boston University (2013-14).
With this upcoming series against UVM, the only Hockey East teams Bentley has not played are Boston College, Providence and Notre Dame.
Looking at the Cats: UVM will enter the weekend with records of 10-6-2 overall and 5-3-1 in Hockey East, which has them T-3rd. In addition to the aforementioned wins over ranked teams BU and Quinnipiac, they have also beaten No. 20 Omaha (5-2, Oct. 22).
Freshman Ross Colton, a draft pick of the Tampa Bay Lighting, leads the team in goals (7) and points (14), and is tied for the team lead in assists (7) while fellow frosh Derek Lodermeier.
Freshman netminder Stefanos Lekkas had a strong first half with a 9-3-2 record in 13 starts. His 2.12 GAA is 10th nationally, and his .925 save percentage is 11th.
Up Next: Bentley has another big weekend on tap. The Falcons will head to Frozen Fenway on Thursday, Jan. 5 to take on Army West Point, followed by the series finale at the JAR one night later.