Setting the Stage: Atlantic Hockey rivals Bentley and Holy Cross will meet for the 3rd and 4th times this season in a weekend home-and-home series. Friday's game is at Bentley Arena, the final regular season home game, and on Saturday the series shifts to the Hart Center in Worcester. Saturday's game can be seen live on NESN Plus. Both games are at 7:05 pm.
The Falcons will go into the weekend in 2nd place in Atlantic Hockey with 30 points on a 14-8-2 AHA record, and they received votes in the USCHO Top 20 Poll for the 3rd straight week.
Bentley is off coming a split at Niagara last weekend. The Falcons won the first game 3-1, which extended its unbeaten streak to 12 games and its winning streak to nine, both program Division I records. The streaks came to an end one night later however, as Niagara won the series finale 4-3, despite a late surge by Bentley with its net empty.
Holy Cross will come into the series T-9th in the AHA with 19 points at 9-14-1. They split with Robert Morris last weekend at home, dropping the first game 5-3, before rebounding with a 2-0 win in the second game.
The Matchup: Bentley won the first two games against Holy Cross earlier this season. Back on Oct. 26 at Bentley Arena, the Falcons won 7-4 behind two goals each from freshmen Jakov Novak and Will Garin, and fellow frosh Dylan Pitera also had a goal. Sophomore Luke Santerno had four assists.
They played again on Nov. 24 at the Hart Center, which Bentley won 4-2. Bentley trailed 1-0 after the first period, but scored three times in the 2nd period, with the goals by Michael Zuffante, Luke Orysiuk and Alexey Solovyev.
Where They Stand: With two weekends left in the regular season, Bentley is in 2nd place with 30 points. They are 5 points behind leaders AIC, but have two games in-hand. They have a four-point cushion in the battle for a top-four spot, which grants a bye to the quarterfinals and home-ice.
Air Force and RIT are currently tied for 3rd with 27 points and have the inside track on the other two top-four spots. Sacred Heart and Mercyhurst though, are right behind with the Pioneers in 5th with 26 points and the Lakers in 6th with 25.
Recapping the Streak: Bentley's 12 game unbeaten streak from Jan. 5-Feb. 14 is the longest of any team in college hockey this season. It's also a Bentley record at Division I, and the 9 game winning streak is also a program Div. I record.
Goaltender Aidan Pelino went 10-0-2 during the streak with a .924 save percentage and 1.88 goals against average. Junior Jonathan Desbiens scored 11 goals, and had a goal in 9 straight games from Jan. 18-Feb. 14.
He and senior Drew Callin each had a team high 16 points during the streak. Callin's came on 3 goals and 13 assists.
In Atlantic Hockey: Jonathan Desbiens' 14 goals is the 5th most in Atlantic Hockey. Luke Santerno is T-4th in points with 31 and 4th in assists with 22, and Drew Callin is T-8th in points with 29 and T-8th in assists with 19.
As a team, the Falcons have both the 2nd ranked scoring offense and defense in Atlantic Hockey. They average 3.27 goals scored per game, and 2.70 goals allowed per game. The scoring offense is good for 11th best in the nation.
Series Notes: This weekend will mark the 65th and 66th all-time meetings between the two programs. The first ever matchup came in 1981-82 season. The only teams Bentley has played more in its history are Sacred Heart (73), Canisius (68) and Army (67). Bentley's win back in October snapped a seven-game winless streak against the Crusaders.
Looking Ahead: Bentley will close out the regular season next weekend with a road series against Army West Point on March 1 and 2. The first series of the season between the two teams at Bentley Arena on Nov. 16-17 was a split. Army won the first game 3-2, and Bentley the second 4-2.