WALTHAM, Mass. – Fans were disappointed in the final outcome but otherwise delighted with the overall experience as Bentley University opened the Bentley Arena Friday night before a sellout crowd of over 2200.
After the final stanza opened with the game tied at 1-1, Army West Point erupted for four goals in the first 9:08 of the third and went on to record a 5-1 Atlantic Hockey win over the Bentley University Falcons (11-15-6, 9-10-6) in the inaugural game on the Coach DeFelice Ice Rink.
Sophomore defenseman Alex Wilkinson (Raleigh, N.C.) led the Black Knights (13-12-6, 10-9-6) with two goals, including the first during the third-period barrage, and an assist.
"It was a great environment to play a college hockey game in," said Bentley head coach Ryan Soderquist. "As tough as it is to swallow that loss, I'm proud of our guys and how they battled, and very excited to see the Bentley community come out and support us. It's something we've been waiting for for a long time."
After a scoreless first period, the Falcons scored the first ever goal at 2:11 of the 2nd period, from defenseman Brett Orr (Elkhorn, Manitoba). Freshman Brendan Hamblet (Hopkington, Mass.) got the play started with a shot in the slot that deflected off an Army defenseman. Senior Matt Sieckhaus (St. Louis, Mo.) dug the puck out of the corner and fed a centering pass that took a deflection to the stick of Orr. The sophomore then fired on net from just inside the blue line and beat Army goalie Cole Bruns to record the first goal in the new arena.
But the Black Knights answered back on the power play a little more than three minutes later. A shot in the high slot from Wilkinson got over the glove of Jayson Argue at the 5:40 mark to tie the score.
The Falcons ended the second period with a 13-9 edge in shots, but came up empty on three power play chances as the score remained tied heading into the final period.
Wilkinson's second goal of the night, 1:27 into the third period, gave Army a 2-1 lead. Center Tyler Pham made it a 3-1 game with his seventh goal of the season at 5:23, and just 1:19 later, the Black Knights made it a three goal lead with a goal off the stick of right wing Conor Andrle.
Bruns finished the night with 30 saves to earn the win for the Black Knights.
The two teams will meet again at the Bentley Arena Saturday at 7:05 pm.