ERIE, Pa. – In a game that was appropriate for the two teams atop the Atlantic Hockey standings, Bentley and Mercyhurst played to a 2-2 tie Friday night at the Ice Center. The Falcons outshot Mercyhurst 34-30 on the night.
It was about as evenly played a game as possible between two teams separated by just two points for first-place in the AHA. The Falcons received goals from freshman Max French (West Kelowna, B.C./West Kelowna Warriors) in the second period, and senior Brett Gensler (St. Charles, Mo./Youngstown Phantoms) in the third. Gensler's goal extended his point streak to 14 games.
Both goaltenders put in solid performances, facing two of the top offenses in the country. Bentley's Branden Komm (Williamsville, N.Y./Northfield Mount Hermon) made 28 saves, including 10 in the third period. Mercyhurst's Jordan Tibbett, stepping in for the injured Jimmy Sarjeant, made 32 saves.
After a scoreless first period, the Lakers got the first goal 3:41 into the second period off the stick off junior Zac Frischmon for his fifth goal of the season.
But the Falcons fought back to tie later in the period on a spectacular goal by French at 15:56. French applied pressure during a Mercyhurst clear attempt and caused a turnover. After getting control of the puck he skated in on Tibbett and put a deke move on him for the goal, his eighth of the season.
It took Bentley just 35 seconds into the third period to take a 2-1 lead on Gensler's 17th goal of the season from juniors Alex Grieve (Calgary, Alberta/Westside Warriors) and defenseman Steve Weinstein (Los Angeles, Calif./Vernon Vipers). Weinstein played a pass in from the point off the boards to Grieve, who then backhanded a pass to Gensler behind the net. Gensler then swooped in front of the net and scored as he was being knocked down to put Bentley in front.
Bentley held that lead until just past the halfway point of the period, when Mercyhurst's Kyle Cook tied the game 2-2 at 10:51. Komm saved an initial shot on net by Nardo Nagtzaam but allowed a rebound, allowing Cook to crash the net and score off the rebound at 10:51.
The Lakers got the better of the final five minutes of regulation, but Bentley's defense stood firm as Komm made a number of his 10 third period saves.
Bentley was outshot by Mercyhurst 5-2 in overtime, but one of those shots was a 2-on-1 with Gensler and Grieve with Grieve's shot hitting the outside of the net.
Gensler's goal in the third period was the 150th point of his career, moving him into second place on the school's all-time scoring list. Weinstein's assist on the goal was his 31st of the season, tying a school single-season record.
The Falcons go to 13-8-4 overall and 11-3-4 in Atlantic Hockey while extending their unbeaten streak to six games. Mercyhurst goes to 14-10-5 and 12-2-4 with the tie and maintains its two-point lead over Bentley. These two teams are back at it Saturday night at the Ice Center to conclude their two-game series.