The Matchup: Sixth-seeded Bentley will host 11th-seeded Sacred Heart in a best-of-three series in the first round of the Atlantic Hockey playoffs beginning Friday night at 7:05 p.m. from Ryan Skating Arena. Game two is Saturday at 7:05 p.m. and game three, if necessary, would be Sunday night at the same time.
Bentley will be looking to get back on track after a disappointing end to the regular season that saw them take just one point against Holy Cross. Still, the Falcons went 5-1-2 in February, and had a seven-game unbeaten streak (5-0-2) that was the second longest in program history before being snapped on Saturday. Bentley finished the regular season 13-13-8 overall and 13-7-7 in Atlantic Hockey for 33 points and sixth-place, just three points behind first-place Air Force and one point out of the top-four.
Sacred Heart played better in February after a rough first four months of the season. They went 3-3-2 in the season's final month to finish 5-26-3 overall and 4-20-3 in Atlantic Hockey, which gave them the 11th seed in the tournament.
AHA Tournament: The other first round series will pit #5 Holy Cross against #12 Army, #7 Robert Morris against #10 AIC and #8 UConn against #9 Canisius. The four teams to emerge from the first round will head out on the road for the quarterfinals, which are best-of-three as well. The AHA regular season champions Air Force is the #1 seed, Niagara is #2, RIT is #3 and Mercyhurst is #4. Air Force will face the lowest remaining seed, and so on down the line.
The four teams to emerge from the quarterfinals will head to the Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, N.Y., for the semifinals on March 16 and the championship game on March 17. The winner receives an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Season Series: Bentley and Sacred Heart met three times in the regular season, once in Watertown and twice in Connecticut, with Bentley going 2-0-1.
- Oct. 25: Bentley picked up its first win of the season with a 7-3 victory at the Milford Ice Pavilion. Brett Switzer and Dan Koudys each had two goals, and defenseman Steve Weinstein had four assists.
- Feb. 3: In the only meeting of the season at the JAR, Bentley trailed 1-0 after the first period and was tied 1-1 after two periods, but exploded for four goals in the final period to take a 5-2 win. Brothers Mike and Brett Switzer scored back-to-back goals, and Aaron Stonacek scored one of his three short-handed goals of the season.
- Feb. 4: One day later at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Brett Gensler rescued a point for Bentley by scoring the tying goal with just .2 seconds left in regulation and an extra-attacker on the ice. The game would end in a 3-3 tie. The Falcons were down 3-0 at one point in the second period, but goals 13 seconds apart from Jamie Nudy and Justin Breton in the second period helped them fight back.
Leading the Way: Gensler finished the regular season leading the AHA in points (41), assists (23) and tied for the lead in goals (18) with UConn's Cole Schneider. He's 17th nationally in points per game (1.21).
Among freshman, Alex Grieve (12-17-29) is tied for the league lead in points with Nardo Nagtzaam and Daniel Bahntge of Mercyhurst, and is tied for fifth overall in points. Switzer (11-15-26) is fourth among rookies in points and tied for 14th overall.
Grieve is seventh in the nation in points per game among rookies (0.88) and Switzer is 18th (0.79).
Fighting Back: Bentley is tied for third in the nation in points in games when trailing after two periods with seven (one win, five ties). The win came against Robert Morris on Jan. 6 when they trailed 1-0 after two periods and won 2-1. Harvard is first, followed by Bowling Green, and Bentley is tied with Boston University, Denver and Merrimack.