BOSTON — Bentley defeated Northeastern, 6-3, Saturday night at Matthews Arena. Brett Hartung scored twice for the Falcons, and Branden Komm made 45 saves in the win. The victory was Bentley’s first since Nov. 24 against Mercyhurst. Meanwhile, the loss drops Northeastern to 2-6-0 in its last eight games.
What I Saw
- Northeastern’s defense missed assignments and reads that led directly to all of the Bentley goals. The Falcons’ converted on their chances efficiently, but Northeastern’s issues created the chances. Following the game, NU coach Jim Madigan said defensive play around the net was a focus area for his team. Regardless of the pairing, it’s clear NU still has some work to do. Bentley’s first goal came following a misplay behind the net and leaving Alex Grive open in the slot. Chris Rawlings wasn’t perfect on the night, but his teammates need to support him with more consistent play throughout the rink.
- Brett Gensler is every bit as good as his numbers suggest. He isn’t, however, the only quality offensive player in the Bentley lineup. Alex Grieve scored Bentley’s first goal of the night and added an assist lated. Brett Hartung finished emphatically on a pair of chances. Gensler controls the game like most dominant forwards when he’s on the ice, and he can find an open teammate as well as any player in the country. As Bentley heads into Atlantic Hockey play, consistent offense from other players is critical for the Falcons to earn a top seed in the conference’s tournament.
- Northeastern’s skill led to most of its chances. However, the Huskies ignored basic tenants of offensive and defensive hockey that was their undoing. Trailing late in the game, players chose to dangle through defenders instead of working pucks deep. At times, the puckhandling displays worked, leading to goals. In the end, though, these same choices stymied rushes before they became scoring chances.
What I Thought
- It’s a cliche, but Bentley simply wanted this more. For three seasons now, Northeastern players have looked brilliant at times. They’ve also seemed entirely disinterested in success at others. Failure to execute or follow coaches’ instructions come on almost every other shift. Late in the game, a pair of NU penalty killers blatantly ignored Madigan’s insistence on a line change. The bad decision led to a quick scoring chance for Bentley that would’ve extended its lead. Eventually, the one-goal advantage became a three-goal win, but Northeastern didn’t exactly help itself tie the score either. At some point, Northeastern’s players or coaches need to find an answer for their own inability to execute and compete consistently. It’s impossible for any team to play effectively for an entire game, but whatever the portion was for Northeastern Saturday simply wasn’t enough.
- I really hope Hockey East teams continue to schedule Atlantic Hockey opponents. I understand the arguments against, of course — it can hurt an at-large bid, it doesn’t have many benefits for the larger program and losses are always embarrassing. Saturday night was special, though, especially for Bentley and its fans. Obviously, Northeastern isn’t playing hockey to help Bentley or any other small program. Still, it makes college hockey better when every team and conference has a chance to improve. The scheduling habits of the nation’s largest programs are simply shameful. This is the second consecutive time Bentley has defeated Northeastern at Matthews Arena. On Saturday, Mercyhurst defeated Maine and Holy Cross played very well in Grand Forks. A couple strong programs from strong conferences lost to bad teams on Saturday night, but college hockey won.
- Komm was the most important player on the ice for Bentley. Gensler’s offensive play was the talk for many. However, Komm kept Bentley in the game during Northeastern’s better stretches. In the first, the Huskies outshot Bentley, 16-9, but Komm kept the score tied with some special saves. Late in the game, the Huskies tied the game, 3-3, with a pair of goals. Komm prevented anything more from coming of the onslaught, though. He stopped 16 of 18 shots in the period, including 11 of 12 grade-A opportunities. The momentum he created quickly swung throughout the Bentley lineup, and the Falcons rebuilt their two-goal lead and added an empty-netter.
What They Said
“It’s week to week at this point. One has an upper-body injury and one has a lower-body injury.” – Northeastern coach Jim Madigan
Madigan was referring to defenseman Dustin Darou and winger Ludwig Karlsson. Both players missed Saturday’s game with injuries. Karlsson suffered his injury in practice last week, while Darou took his bump in a win at Harvard one week ago. With the most important part of the season coming up, injuries are the last thing Northeastern needs It’s unclear if either player will be back for next Friday’s Hockey East game with Maine. However, Northeastern is currently tied for the eighth and final playoff spot with Massachusetts-Lowell. The River Hawks have two games in hand, and the Huskies need a full lineup to avoid missing the playoffs for a second consecutive season.
What They Didn’t Say
Bentley coach Ryan Soderquist was proud of his team after the game, and he refused to credit a Northeastern letdown with Bentley’s win. Now, the Huskies were noticeably worse after fighting back to tie Bentley. However, the Falcons earned their win Saturday night. The gulf in talent and acclaim is obvious. Bentley didn’t care. They took advantage of the chances they created and held strong when Northeastern pressed. In short, Bentley won this game more than Northeastern lost it.
What Else You Should Know
- Northeastern hosts Maine next Friday in their first of six consecutive Hockey East games before the Beanpot begins on Feb. 4.
- Bentley is in a similar position with 16 Atlantic Hockey games remaining this season. The Falcons head to Rochester next week for a pair of games at RIT. Bentley is currently tied for sixth in Atlantic Hockey.