January 17, 2014

Atlantic Hockey: A weekend of wackiness

By Allen Lessels

Alex Grieve's hat trick propelled Bentley to an 8-2 win over RIT.

They put up some wacky numbers.

Some weeks, it takes a little more time than others to pore over statistics and come up with an Atlantic Hockey Player of the Week. It might take weighing a short-handed, game-winning goal against a two-goal game or a 23-save shutout and some weeks the numbers don’t jump off the game summaries.

And then there are the times like last weekend.

Bentley senior forward Brett Gensler was actually not a difficult choice as the weekly winner. Four goals and four assists in a sweep of RIT will do that for a guy.

But a half a dozen or so other players – a handful of point producers and a couple of goal-stoppers - might have pulled down the honors in any other week.

Start with the stoppers.

Mercyhurst junior Jimmy Sarjeant led his team to a sweep of Holy Cross. He had a 51-save shutout on Friday night and then followed up with 36 saves in a 4-2 win on Saturday.

Or how about AIC freshman Hunter Leisner? He had 27 saves in a 6-2 win over Niagara on Friday and nearly matched that save total – in one period – in a 3-2 decision at Massachusetts on Tuesday.

Leisner had 26 saves in the second period – yes 26 - against UMass and had 57, yes 57, for the game. The Yellow Jackets, by the way, were outshot 27-2 by UMass in the second period and outscored them in the frame, 2-1.

On the point-making side, Leisner’s senior teammate, Jon Puskar, scored four goals, including the game-winner, in the triumph over Niagara.

Bentley junior Alex Grieve, playing center to Gensler on the right and junior Brett Switzer on the left, had his second hat trick of the season in the first game against RIT, an 8-2 decision.

Mercyhurst junior forward Chris Bodo collected his first career hat trick in a 4-2 win at Holy Cross on Saturday.

And in Storrs, Conn., on Thursday, senior forward Billy Latta had his first career “trick” in a 5-1 win against Robert Morris. Latta’s hat trick combined with one by classmate Brant Harris the game before gave the Huskies back-to-back, three-goal games.

That streak came to quick stop with a 6-1 UConn loss the next night in the rematch.

So what do the scorers and stoppers have in store for us this weekend?

The regular season is down to seven weekends, including this one, and the jockeying for position in the standings is ongoing.

UConn is tied for third place in the league with Air Force and those two teams trail second-place Bentley by three points and leader Mercyhurst by six.

UConn will try to close the gap and bring the Lakers back to the pack a bit with a two-game set at Mercyhust this weekend.

Bentley is at Canisuis on Saturday and Sunday. The Falcons have a five-point lead on the Golden Griffins. 

The other matchups have Holy Cross at Niagara, AIC at Robert Morris, Sacred Heart at Air Force and Army at RIT.

Let the wackiness continue. 

Player of the Week

Brett Gensler, sr. F, Bentley

Gensler turns back some especially tough competitor this week to take the honors. He scored four goals and added four assists in a sweep of RIT. His two goals and three assists in an 8-2 win on Friday night helped get the Falcons rolling.

Games of the week

UConn at Mercyhurst, Friday and Saturday

The Huskies will take their shot at trying to slow the Lakers down a bit. Mercyhurst leads the league standings by three points over Bentley. UConn and Air Force are tied for third place, another three points behind Bentley. 

Power Rankings

1. Mercyhurst (13-9-2, 11-1-1)  . . . Junior goalie Jimmy Sarjeant had a 51-save shutout to give the Lakers a 1-0 win in their opener at Holy Cross. He stopped 36 of 38 shots the next night in a 4-2 triumph. The Lakers have UConn at home on Friday and Saturday.

2. Bentley (11-8-2, 9-3-2) . . . The Falcons put up a season high in goals to open their home series against RIT with an 8-2 win and they completed the sweep with a 4-1 decision. Junior Alex Grieve had a hat trick in the opener. Bentley is at Canisius this weekend.

3. UConn (10-7-2, 8-4-1) . . . Senior forward Billy Latta’s first career hat trick led the Huskies to a 5-1 win over Robert Morris in the series opener on Thursday night. UConn dropped the rematch the next night, 6-1.

4. Air Force (12-6-4, 7-3-3) . . . Freshman Chris Truehl stopped 34 of 37 shots to lead the Falcons to 3-1 and 3-2 wins at Army. The Falcons are 5-1-3 in their last nine games and are at Sacred Heart on Friday and Saturday. 

5. Canisius (8-11-1, 7-5-1) . . . Down 4-2 in the third period in its series opener against Sacred Heart, Canisius rallied for three goals in the last 11 minutes. Senior defenseman Ben Danford scored the 5-4 winner with 32 seconds left.

6. RIT (6-11-3, 5-7-1) . . . After posting a six-game unbeaten streak, RIT has lost four straight. Senior forward Michael Colavecchia’s third assist in the series on Saturday at Bentley put him at the 100-point mark for his career with 39 goals and 61 assists.

7. Niagara (5-12-3, 5-5-3) . . . Niagara bounced back with a vengeance for a 5-0 win over AIC at home on Saturday night after losing 6-2 on Friday. Freshman Jackson Teichroeb had a 12-save shutout as Niagara outshot AIC, 32-12.

8. Robert Morris (5-13-2, 5-6-2) . . . Junior forward Cody Wydo scored a pair of goals in his team’s 6-1 win over UConn on Friday that salvaged a weekend split. He now has 48 career goals, second best in school history. The Colonials have AIC at home this weekend.

9. Sacred Heart (6-16-0, 5-10-0) . . . Junior forward Drew George scored the winning goal with 3:01 left to give the Pioneers a 3-2 decision on Sunday and a split of their series at Canisius. Sacred Heart travels to Air Force this weekend.

10. AIC (6-14-0, 5-8-0) . . . Senior forward Jon Puskar scored four goals – including three in a row in the first period - in his team’s 6-2 win over Niagara on Friday night. Freshman goalie Hunter Leisner stopped 57 shots in a 3-2 win at UMass on Tuesday.  

11. Holy Cross (4-15-2, 3-9-2) . . . The Crusaders took a whopping 51 shots, but their 1-0 loss to Mercyhurst on Friday marked the second straight game they had been shut out and third time this season. The team’s goals per game averaged dropped to 1.95.

12. Army (3-16-0, 3-12-0) . . . Freshman Clint Carlisle scored Army’s first shorthanded goal of the season in the second period on Saturday night to give his team a 2-0 lead over Air Force. The Black Knights could not hold on and fell, 4-2. 

Twitter: @AllenLessels
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