Setting the Stage: Coming off a sweep of Robert Morris on the road last weekend, the Falcons return to Bentley Arena to take on the RIT Tigers this Friday and Saturday.
The sweep of RMU last weekend improved the Falcons' Atlantic Hockey record to 6-7-1 for 13 points. That has them in 8th place in the tightly bunched standings, just four points out of a top-five spot.
RIT is coming off a sweep as well last weekend. They went on the road and defeated AIC by scores of 6-3 and 3-2. The Tigers are unbeaten in their last five games (4-0-1) and have an Atlantic Hockey record of 8-6-2, which has them in 4th place with 18 points.
The Matchup: This will be RIT's first visit to Bentley Arena, and its first road games against Bentley since October of the 2016-17 season. The Falcons have won four straight games against RIT after sweeps in two straight series at the Polisseni Center in Rochester. They swept a series in January of 2017 by scores of 3-2 and 6-3, and swept a series last February by scores of 4-3 and 5-2.
Both teams come into the weekend averaging better than three goals per game. Bentley's 10 goal output in the sweep of RMU raised their season average to 3.05 goals per game, while RIT averages 3.10. RIT allows slightly fewer goals per game at 2.70 to Bentley's 3.00.
Last Time Out: Bentley went on the road and swept Robert Morris last weekend by scores of 5-2 and 5-1. Junior Ryner Gorowsky led the way in the first game with two goals, while Luke Santerno, Drew Callin and Connor Brassard also had goals. Bentley led 3-0 after the 2nd period, and 4-0 after a short-handed goal by Gorowsky 1:40 into the 3rd period.
The second game was highlighted by Pittsburgh native Brendan Walkom scoring two goals in a return to his hometown. Santerno and defenseman Tanner Jago had first period goals to stake Bentley to a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes. Junior Jake Kauppila made it 3-0 at 6:13 of the 2nd period, and Walkom's first goal of the night at 17:05 of the 2nd made it 4-0. Walkom scored again late in the 3rd period for Bentley's 5th goal of the night.
Pelino Named Goalie of the Week: Junior goalie Aidan Pelino was named the Atlantic Hockey Goalie of the Week on Tuesday for the 5th time in his career. Pelino was the winning goalie in both games against the Colonials, and put together a combined .938 save percentage and 1.50 goals against average for both games. Pelino made 21 stops in Friday's game and 24 on Saturday.
He is the third Bentley player this season to earn a weekly award from Atlantic Hockey. Freshmen forwards Jakov Novak and Dylan Pitera were named Rookie of the Week on Oct. 30 and Nov. 6, respectively.
Vote for Jago: Senior defenseman and team captain Tanner Jago is on the fan ballot for the 2019 Hobey Baker Award. Jago is Bentley's second leading scorer this season with 16 points, and he is 2nd in assists as well with 11. Jago currently has the 6th most points among defensemen in Atlantic Hockey this season. Earlier this season, he was named one of just 15 candidates for the prestigious Senior CLASS award, which recognizes excellence on the ice, in the classroom and in the community.
Fans can head to the following link to cast their votes, up until Sunday March 10: https://www.hobeybaker.com/vote
Series Notes: RIT leads the all-time series 21-15-2. The first ever meeting between these two programs was back in the 1979-80 season. Bentley has won four in a row over the Tigers, all on the road, and has won the last six games on RIT's home-ice overall. The Tigers though have won the last four games hosted by Bentley.
Up Next: The Falcons are back on the road next weekend when they take on Canisius for the first time this season. The next games at Bentley Arena are on Feb. 1 and 2 against Air Force.