With another weekend quickly approaching, it is time to unveil our five games to watch this weekend. As always, make sure to circle back for updates. You can also follow along with in-game updates on Twitter (@NoontimeSports or @NoonSportsBlog), too.
Men’s Ice Hockey
No. 1 Boston College @ No. 14 Vermont (Friday, Feb. 14 / Saturday, Feb. 15) – The Eagles will look to continue their winning ways when they travel to Vermont for a weekend series.
BC is coming off their fifth-straight Boston Beanpot title as they defeated Northeastern, 4-1. Johnny Gaudreau, who netted one goal during his team’s win against the Huskies, is averaging 2.00 points per game. He currently leads all Division 1 skaters with 25 goals and 33 assists for 58 points.
Army vs. Bentley (Friday, Feb. 14 @ Army/ Saturday, Feb. 15 @ Bentley) – With three weeks of Atlantic Hockey remaining, the Falcons will look to keep pace Mercyhurst, the top squad in the conference.
The Falcons returned to the win column after dropping back-to-back tilts to the Lakers and UConn by finishing last weekend’s series with a 4-1 win over the Huskies. Jared Rickord, Justin Breton and Brett Switzer each netted one goal in the opening frame to provide Bentley with the lead for good.
Army and Bentley have met once this season with the Falcons claiming a 5-2 victory in West Point, New York. Similar to their last contest against UConn, Bentley used a 2-0 lead to secure their second victory of the season against the Black Knights.
Army will look to snap an 11-game skid, while the Falcons will attempt to end the weekend with back-to-back victories.
According to the weekend preview, Bentley needs just one more point to clinch a top-eight spot and a home series for the first round of their conference’s tournament.
No. 3 Babson @ No. 9 Norwich (Friday, Feb. 14) – Since falling to the Cadets at Frozen Fenway, the Beavers have won eight of nine contests. Their non-win was a 3-3 tie against Castleton State.
Babson is currently the top squad in the ECAC East with a 19-3-1 overall mark and leads Norwich by three points. The Beavers, who’ll travel to St. Michael’s tomorrow, needs to win one of their final two contests to secure their first conference regular-season crown since the 1989-90 season. Babson, though, has secured the right to host a quarterfinal and semifinal matchup.
Mike Driscoll currently leads the Green and White in points (23) and goals (11), while Nik Tasiopoulos is second in goals (10).
Women’s Ice Hockey
Boston University vs. Providence College (Saturday, Feb. 15 @ BU/ Sunday, Feb. 16 @ Providence) – The Terriers will look to bounce back following their two Beanpot losses with a weekend series against Providence, a squad that defeated BU earlier this season.
BU’s Sarah Lefort ranks first in Hockey East in point scoring (47), goal scoring (27) and assist scoring (20). Lefort’s teammate, Louise Warren, is second in point scoring (37) and goal scoring (22).
Trinity (Conn.) @ No. 7 Amherst (Friday, Feb. 14/ Saturday, Feb. 15) – With two more weekends remaining, the Lord Jeffs will look to earn a weekend sweep, along with some points, too. Amherst is currently third in the conference, one point behind rival Williams, which has 18 points.
Since the calendar turned, the Lord Jeffs are 2-0-1. They finished a weekend series with Connecticut College two weeks ago by defeat the Camels, 3-0, before earning a win and tie against the Ephs last weekend. Anne Gillard and Eileen Harris each potted one goal during their team’s last outing, while Yuna Evans deflected 26-of-28 saves.
Trinity enters the weekend series third in the NESCAC in scoring offense; they’re averaging 3.00 goals per game, while Amherst is four with 2.90. The Lord Jeffs scoring defense (1.70 goals per game) is second behind Middlebury, while Trinity is third (2.10).
Here are the scores and results from this evening’s contests.
QUICK NOTE: All games below were men’s ice hockey tilts. No local women’s games were played today.
UMass 2, Colgate 0: Troy Power and Conor Sheary each netted one goal, while Steve Mastalerz deflected 18 shots as the Minutemen defeated Colgate in non-conference action. Both teams will return to the ice tomorrow, face-off is scheduled for 2 p.m.
Bentley 4, Boston University 1: Brett Switzer recorded one goal and one assist, while Steve Weinstein registered two helpers as the Falcons shocked the Terriers in their first-ever meeting. BU’s Matt Lane lit the lamp for the fourth time this season in the third period, which trimmed the deficit to 3-1.
Maine 5, AIC 1: Chris Porter provided the Yellow Jackets with an early lead before the Black Bears netted five straight goals to secure a weekend sweep. AIC’s Ryan Kerpan finished the contest with 39 saves.
Make sure to follow Rubin for updates on the team this weekend on Twitter (@DanRubin12) and visit his sports blog Excalibur Sports, too.
Noontime Sports: You’ve been the voice of the Bentley Falcons men’s ice hockey team for the past few seasons. What’s been one of your fondest memories in the booth? Also, what do you enjoy most about calling games?
Dan Rubin: This is a great brand of hockey and I’m right in the middle of it. The hockey is up-tempo, fast, and skilled. There’s a good amount of hitting, a good amount of chirping, and the teams really play each other hard every single night and it’s just as entertaining as any other league. Their rink is small, but reflects something grittier about the game. I’ve been able to immerse in the whole experience from setting up equipment to interacting with players, coaches, and fans, too.
In terms of my fondest memories, though, it would have to be the games that I broadcasted with others. Rory Duyon and I developed great chemistry over the last four or five years that is really hard to find in a ‘broadcast team,’ and the back and fourth banter is something I miss. We really balanced each other out on the air, and people still ask me about when will we broadcasting again, but this year I’ve worked with a new partner, Steve Brouillard, who brought a wealth of knowledge and identical humor and banter to the air. After a long workday it’s the perfect release to call a game that I genuinely love with someone who can have fun with me.
NS: What particular games or moments from this year stick out to you most? How have those games/moments defined the Falcons season?
DR: There are a couple of games that really stuck out. The first game of the year against Sacred Heart was an extremely emotional night for all the right reasons. After a successful 2011-12 campaign, Bentley commenced their season by honoring Mike Eden, who was a teenager from Framingham that suffered from a certain form of cancer. He was tied to the Bentley team through Team IMPACT, which is a local organization that links children with illness with collegiate sports teams. Mike passed away after their previous season, and the team had his family on the ice for the ceremonial puck drop. They displayed ‘EDEN’ nameplates on their sweaters prior to their 7-1 victory. That was just one of those nights that felt so different and special, but it certainly gave the impression that this season could be different.
The second game would be earlier this winter in January against Northeastern University. It was a really intense game and Bentley beat the Huskies, 6-3. They shut down Kevin Roy for most of the game, too, but this game proved that Bentley could hang with skilled Hockey East teams.
NS: What player or players have improved from last season?
DR: I’d say Brett Gensler, who won the conference’s scoring title for the second consecutive year. He’s the first guy in Bentley’s history to post back-to-back 40-point seasons, which hadn’t happened since the team’s coach Ryan Soderquist did it during the club’s Division II era. When Gensler’s on he’s probably one of the six or seven best forwards in the nation. But the guy that’s really standing out to me is Steve Weinstein. The defensive unit was completely ravaged by graduation departures and Weinstein stepped into the top defender’s role. He can play a great two-way style and he’s got major skills. This year he added a little bit of physicality to his game while still recording 25 points (six goals, 19 assists). The entire defensive unit has continually been a work-in-progress, but he’s the centerpiece, as well as the only sophomore, so to think what might happen with him over the next two years has me really excited.
Some other players include Alex Grieve, who posted a 30-point season with seven power play goals and Brett Switzer, who recorded 20 points after struggling to score in the first half of the year. Grieve is destined to wear a letter on his jersey based off his attitude, but when you add the skill of Switzer and guys like Justin Breton and Andrew Gladiuk, this is a team that can make things happen. Gladiuk, who won the freshman scoring title, should also win Rookie of the Year, too.
NS: Looking ahead to this weekend’s first round series, what are three things Bentley needs to do to win their series?
DR: First, they need to forget how the regular season ended. The team lost some of their key players to injuries down the stretch and couldn’t recover. And after beating Holy Cross in the front end of a home-and-home series, they limped down the stretch with only one win. They left points on the board despite rallying against Sacred Heart two weeks ago for a 6-6 tie, and against AIC they led 3-1, but would up losing in overtime, 4-3.
The second thing they need to do is commit to playing two-way hockey. This team proved that when they’re clicking nobody can stop their offense. They never won a game this year where they didn’t score three goals, so they have to commit themselves to that physical defensive style. They have to get ‘nasty’ in the playoffs and play a Bentley-style game. That means sacrificing into the dirty areas, sacrificing to block shots, and relishing the roles of picking up defensive assignments. Branden Komm has game-breaking ability in net, and he’s a returning all-conference goalie, but that doesn’t mean the defense can simply rely on him to win tournament contests.
Finally, they’ll have to capitalize on power plays. At one time, the power play unit was ranked first in the nation, but they recently fell to 27th, so if they’re going to get those opportunities they must convert. If they convert even on one out of every four chances, they should get a couple of extra goals over the weekend and be in a position to move onto the second round.
NS: What types of challenges does Canisius pose and how will Bentley defend them?
DR: Canisius is a good defensive team that doesn’t make mistakes. They’re a Top-20 defensive unit that kills power plays at a 90% rate. Bentley scored seven goals against that unit earlier this year, but that has to be considered an anomaly for a team that pitched shutouts against Connecticut, Holy Cross, and Niagara. Their goaltending has a ‘rock’ in Tony Capobianco, which means their offense is going to need to limit mistakes. Bentley’s going to have to use skill and speed and work their system to get quality breakouts into the Griffin third of the ice. The rink at Canisius has the same dimensions as the rink at home, but the ice will be a little bit faster with a little bit larger neutral zone, which will allow the team to get those wingers set up and get them broken out faster for odd-man rushes.
NS: Who is one or two players that’ll need to step up this weekend for Bentley?
DR: A team really hates to rely on freshmen, but one name that will play a huge role this weekend is Matt Blomquist. Blomquist and Weinstein emerged as a great defensive pairing before the first-year suffered an injury against Niagara, but he’ll return to the lineup this weekend, which means the defense can stabilize its pairings. That also means that Matt Maher won’t have to skate on the top unit and it’ll allow flexibility to push Michael Reardon to a fourth-line forward’s role if necessary. Blomquist’s return provides Bentley with a lockdown defensive pairing that seemed to energize their second unit. It might also allow Soderquist the opportunity to pair Zach Ledford and Zach Marginsky together again, which gives them a decent top four.
Another player to watch is Andrew Gladiuk, who was sidelined the last couple of games with an injury and like Blomquist, he could’ve skated against AIC last weekend, but was held out for the playoffs. Gladiuk was a dynamo in the British Columbia Hockey League and has experienced a great deal of success as a top line skaters for Bentley. Gladiuk’s return allows Soderquist the opportunity to create some interesting pairings and get the special teams cranking, too.
NS: Last season, they won their first round series, but fell in the quarterfinals. What do you think Bentley learned from that experience and how will it help them this weekend?
DR: Last season hurt and I know the guys left RIT feeling like they could’ve won that series, especially after they creamed the Tigers in the first game and rallied to force double overtime in the second. Last year’s pain is something that drove the Falcons this year, but things fell apart down the stretch and they lost the advantage of playing at home. But at the same time they were three points away from home ice, and they’ve beaten everyone in front of them at least once except for Air Force. Bentley can fight with these teams and will head into the playoffs with some big game experience under their belts.
NS: What’s your prediction for this first round series? Who wins and why?
DR: If Bentley doesn’t find their mojo that they had for most of this season, they could be in trouble. They’re playing a Canisius team that just swept RIT and this is a battle-hardened unit that’s had to play in the Western Division of the AHA, a schedule structure with more games against tougher teams. Bentley is getting back a full complement of skaters for the first time since they split with Holy Cross in late January, so if they can rediscover their magic, they’ll win in three.
NS: Finally, what’s one thing you’ll remember most about this season?
DR: Well, I’m excited for next year because the coaching staff has been phenomenal in opening the doors of the program to my work and to me personally. The guys on the team are a great group that come from excellent families. I’ve always said for people to come by the press box and stop by to say, ‘hello,’ and they’ve responded, but I’m very fortunate to have worked with a great group of young men and experience the highs and lows with them. The students have turned out in droves for games this year and their enthusiasm for the game is great. I always say that because of the people I’m a Bentley guy. However, I never took a single class on campus, but that doesn’t stop me from being a Bentley Falcon for life. They’ve really opened up and welcomed me in and each year brings the same excitement to me personally for every game. That said, we still got some hockey left, and I’m really hoping on a personal level to see these guys play one more time up in Rochester at Blue Cross Arena for the conference final four.
There were some exciting outcomes in the college hockey world this evening and here are a few highlights.
Men’s Ice Hockey:
* Boston University 3, Providence 2 – Sahir Gill netted his fifth strike of the season at 7:14 in the third, which provided the Terriers with their 13th win of the season. Sean Maguire deflected 32 shots between the pipes, while Providence outshot the home team, 34-25.
* Maine 4, Boston College 1 – The Black Bears potted three of their four goals in the first two periods, while netminder Martin Ouellette turned away 34 shots.
* Northeastern University 4, UMass Lowell 4 OT – The Huskies surrendered a two-goal lead in the third, as Daniel Furlong and Derek Arnold evened the score, which forced an extra session at Matthews Arena.
* UMass 3, Vermont 2 – The Minutemen earned their ninth win of the season, as Conor Sheary potted a power play goal at 5:32 in the third.
* Merrimack 3, New Hampshire 2 – Brian Christie’s goal seven seconds into the final stanza lifted the Warriors to an important win against the Wildcats. Merrimack finished the game outshooting their opponent, 35-31.
* Clarkson 5, Harvard 1 – Despite entering the first intermission with a one-goal advantage, Clarkson responded with two tallies in the second and three in the third to earn their fifth win of the season in Cambridge.
* Bentley University 4, Holy Cross 1 – Brett Switzer netted two third period goals, which lifted the Falcons past the Crusaders in their first of two tilts this weekend in Worcester.
* UMass Boston 7, Babson College 5 – Steve Weston, Cam Harvey and Mark Grinhaus each netted one goal for the Beacons in the third period, as UMass Boston skated past the Beavers in an important ECAC East showdown.
* Amherst College 3, Wesleyan University 1
* Williams College 5, Tufts University 3
Women’s Ice Hockey:
* Boston University 5, Vermont 2 – Three different Terriers netted a goal in the second, while Jordan Juron registered her second tally of the contest at 6:28 in the third, as BU defeated the Catamounts and earned their 16th win of the season.
* Clarkson 3, Harvard 1 – Despite a first period goal from Kalley Armstrong, Clarkson responded with two third period strikes, which halted Harvard’s winning streak, as well as provided them with their first ECAC setback of the season.