The Matchup: The 2016 Atlantic Hockey Playoffs get underway this weekend with the first round and Bentley will host Sacred Heart in the 8-9 matchup in a best of three series starting Friday night. All three games, if necessary, will take place at the JAR and will have a 7:05 start time.
The Falcons closed out the regular season last week with ties against AIC and Army West Point and a defeat to AWP. That gave Bentley the 8th seed and home-ice advantage in this best of three series. Bentley last played Sacred Heart in the postseason in the 2012 first round, which Bentley won two games to one to advance to the quarterfinals.
Sacred Heart closed out the regular season last weekend by getting swept by Holy Cross, settling them into the 9th seed.
Follow the Games: Each game of the series can be seen live on EverSport in HD. The cost for a day pass is $6.99. Visit this page to sign up.
Around Atlantic Hockey: The other two first round series this weekend will pit No. 6 Army hosting No. 11 AIC, and No. 7 Canisius hosting No. 10 Niagara. Robert Morris, Air Force, Holy Cross, Mercyhurst and RIT all earned first round byes. Mercyhurst and RIT will play each other in the quarterfinals as the 4-5 series, while the other three teams await their opponents based on this weekend's results.
Season Series: Bentley played Sacred Heart twice this season and came away with a 4-2 win and 3-3 tie, both played at the JAR. In the win on Jan. 29, Andrew Gladiuk and Kyle Schmidt each had one goal and one assist. A 3rd period power play goal by Schmidt, assisted by Gladiuk and defenseman Matt Blomquist, provided the final margin.
One night later Bentley fought back from a 2-0 deficit in the 3-3 tie. Gladiuk scored a power play goal at 16:20 of the 2nd period, followed by a goal by freshman Cody DePourcq just 1:01 into the 3rd frame to tie it. A power play goal by Schmidt at 15:28 gave Bentley a 3-2 lead, but the Pioneers tied it less than a minute later, and that's how the game ended.
Postseason History: These two teams have met in the postseason in three previous seasons. A 2-0 Bentley win in the 2003 MAAC first round, a 6-3 Sacred Heart win in the 2011 Atlantic Hockey first round, a two games to one series win for Bentley in the 2012 AHA first round.
High Scoring Trio: Bentley's trio of Gladiuk, Schmidt and Max French have all surpassed 35 points this season, making Bentley one of just six teams nationally to have three players with 35-plus points. The other five are Robert Morris, Michigan, Quinnipiac, Denver and Boston College.
Entering the weekend, French leads the team with 40 points. He's followed by Schmidt with 37 and Gladiuk with 36. All three are in the top-10 in Atlantic Hockey in points, with French 3rd, Schmidt 7th and Gladiuk T-8th. French is 3rd in the nation in points per game at 1.54
Four Net Their First: All four goals Bentley scored last weekend against Army were scored by players getting the first of their careers. Forwards Tyler Krause and Danny Kucerovy netted on Friday at West Point, while defensemen playing forwards Andy Chugg and Alexey Solovyev found the back of the net Saturday at home.