The Matchup: Bentley returns home for the first time since mid-December when they host the RIT Tigers at the JAR for a weekend series beginning Friday night at 7:05 and concluding Saturday night. If you can't make it to the rink, both games can be seen live on EverSport.
This will be the 2nd series of the season between the two teams after the Falcons swept up in Rochester the weekend of Nov. 13 by identical 3-2 wins in overtime. Bentley was swept at Robert Morris last weekend in Pittsburgh, while RIT split at home with Canisius, losing the first game 6-3 and winning the second 4-3.
Follow the Games: If you won't be at the JAR this weekend, both games can be seen live on EverSport. The cost for a day pass is $6.99, while the cost for a season pass is $99. Visit this page to sign up.
Around Atlantic Hockey: The top two teams atop the standings entering the weekend, Robert Morris and Holy Cross, have some separation from the rest of the league, but behind them the standings are tightly bunched. The Colonials are in 1st place with 23 points with the Crusaders behind them with 21.
The 3rd through 10th place teams are separated by just six points though. RIT (8-5-1 AHC) is in 3rd with 17 points, and Bentley (6-7-2 AHC) is T-7th with Canisius with 14 points. The top-five teams at the end of the regular season receive a bye to the Atlantic Hockey quarterfinals, while the 6th-11th place teams will play a best of three series starting March 4.
Atlantic Hockey's leading scorer so far this season is Robert Morris' Zac Lynch (17-17-34), who also leads the league in goals. Teammate David Friedman leads the league in assists (20).
Bentley's leading scorer Max French, is in the Top-10 of Atlantic Hockey in goals, assists and points. He's T-6th in both points (24) and goals (11) and T-9th in assists (13). He leads the team in each of those categories.
Bentley has two other players that are in the Top-10 in offensive categories. Senior Matt Blomquist is T-6th in defensemen scoring (12), and freshman Tanner Jago is T-9th in that category (10). Jago is also T-8th in scoring among freshmen.
French in Top 10 Nationally: French is 10th nationally in points per game, as the junior is averaging 1.41. The national leader in that category is Andrew Poturalski from UNH at 1.80 points per game.
Last Time vs. RIT: Bentley and RIT squared off earlier this season up in Rochester, with the Falcons sweeping the series by winning both games in overtime 3-2. In the first game, RIT peppered the Bentley net with 58 shots, but standout performances by goalies Jayson Argue (43 saves) and Gabe Antoni (13 saves) helped lead the way to the win. French's 2nd goal of the night, coming with just 31 seconds left in OT, was the winner. Freshman Jake Ahlgren also scored for Bentley.
In the second game, with Bentley trailing 2-1, sophomore Kyle Schmidt netted the tying goal with 5:08 left in regulation. In OT, senior Andrew Gladiuk scored the winner just 46 seconds into the extra session.
Series History: RIT leads the all-time series over Bentley 17-11-2, but the Falcons have won 6 of the last 8 meetings since the 2012-13 season, including a sweep in Rochester earlier this season and a sweep at the JAR in 2013-14. The first ever meeting came way back in the 1979-80 season, a 7-6 Bentley win in overtime.
The two programs have played once before in the Atlantic Hockey playoffs, a classic three-game series in 2012 that RIT won 2-1. Bentley dominated game one, 4-1, and in game two, rallied from 4-1 down before falling in double OT 5-4. The Tigers then won game three 3-0.
Up Next: Bentley has a home and home series next weekend with AIC. The first game, on Friday the 22nd is at the JAR before the series shifts to Springfield the following night. Bentley won the first meeting this season, 1-0 on Dec. 1 at the JAR.