The Matchup: Bentley and Holy Cross will go head to head at the JAR on the final weekend of the regular season. Both teams still have a lot to play for in terms of playoff seeding, making the stakes for this series high. The action gets underway Friday night at 7:05, and concludes Saturday night at the same time.
The Falcons (10-11-5 AHC) will enter the weekend in 7th place in Atlantic Hockey with 25 points. Depending on Mercyhurst's result against Canisius tonight, they could be as much as three points or as little as one point out of a top-five spot, and the first round bye that comes with it.
Holy Cross (10-10-6 AHC) is just one point ahead of Bentley in the standings with 26, and is tied for 5th with Mercyhurst. The Crusaders were swept by Army last weekend in a pair of close games, 3-1 and 4-2.
Saturday's game will be Senior Night at the JAR. Prior to the game the team's five seniors, Mike Berry, Will Suter, Tyler Deresky, Max French and Charlie Donners, will be honored for their contributions to the program. Additionally, Tyler Deresky will be hosting a fundraiser for the Special Olympics during Friday's game at the JAR. Fans can bid on Bentley hockey gear, and a signed stick by the captain of the 1980 USA Ice Hockey Team, Mike Eruzione, during a silent auction.
If you can't make it to the game on Friday, please head to this link to consider donating: http://bentleyicehockey.kintera.org/
Where They Stand: Bentley (25 points) is in a strong position to at least play at home in the first round of the Atlantic Hockey playoffs. They need just one point this weekend, or have Sacred Heart (21 points) fail to sweep Air Force.
The Falcons can potentially finish as high as 4th, with a sweep of Holy Cross, Robert Morris (29 points) getting swept by Niagara, and Mercyhurst (26 points) not winning both of its last two games. Finishing 4th would give Bentley a home series in the quarterfinals the weekend of March 10.
Bentley can finish 5th, which would give them a bye to the quarterfinals but have them on the road, with a sweep of Holy Cross and Mercyhurst not sweeping its final two games. Bentley can also potentially finish 5th with three points, as long as Mercyhurst doesn't get one win. However all of the above scenarios are subject to tiebreakers.
Last Time Out: Bentley split with Sacred Heart last weekend, with a 4-0 win at home and a 3-2 defeat on the road. In the victory, freshman Aidan Pelino posted his 2nd shutout in three starts with 24 saves. Offensively, three of the four lines produced a goal, as did the power play.
The series finale featured a wild finish with four goals in the last 3:18 of the 2nd period. Defenseman Alexey Solovyev scored with 2:45 left to cut Bentley's deficit to 2-1. However, with Bentley on a 6-on-4 advantage, SHU scored an empty net goal with 1:13 to go. Bentley's Drew Callin scored with 50 seconds left still on the 6-on-4, but time ran out before they could find the tying goal.
Pelino Repeats: Pelino was named Atlantic Hockey Goalie of the Week for the 2nd straight week. In the Sacred Heart series, he stopped 55 of 57 shots for a .965 save percentage and 1.01 GAA. Over the last four games, he has a 2-1-1 record with two shutouts, a .975 save percentage and a miniscule 0.74 GAA.
Pelino's shutout last Friday was Bentley's first at the JAR since Gabe Antoni blanked AIC 1-0 on Dec. 1 of last season.
Series Notes: It's been more than 14 months since Bentley and Holy Cross last played, which was last season on Dec. 11-12, 2015 at the JAR. Both games went to overtime, with the first game ending 1-1, and Holy Cross winning the second game 2-1.
The Crusaders lead the all-time series 32-20-8. The Falcons are winless (0-2-1) in the last three meetings, but prior to that had won six of eight in the series. In the last 10 games at the JAR, going back to the 2009-10 season, it's pretty tight with Holy Cross holding a slight 3-2-5 edge.