Bentley University answered each time Air Force scored a goal on Saturday.
That was the good news.
The rest of the story is that Bentley was not able to get a go-ahead goal and had to settle for a 2-2 tie at home and a single point in the Atlantic Hockey standings.
To compound matters, Air Force had pinned a 7-4 loss on the home team on Friday night and thus came away with three points for the weekend, allowing the visiting Falcons to close in on Bentley and the other teams above them in the standings.
For Ryan Soderquist’s team, it was an opportunity mostly squandered and a continuation of how the first half of the season went.
“We’ve really been up and down so far this year,” said junior forward Brett Gensler, who once again is leading the league in scoring. “We’ve had some weekends where we really seem to take a step in the right direction and the next week we go out and don’t play so hot.”
In the last month, the Falcons won three of their four games starting with a 7-3 win over AIC on Nov. 16, but then lost three of their last four – and the fourth game was the tie with Air Force – before the holiday break.
Gensler provided some of the highlights to the Air Force weekend. He had a goal and an assist in each game and his last point marked a milestone.
He scored Bentley’s first goal on Saturday and then had an assist on the Jared Rickord goal that tied it again at 2-2.
It was the 100th point of Gensler’s career. He reached the mark in 88 games, which is the quickest any player in the school’s Division 1 history has made it.
Gensler had 10-16-26 totals in the first 15 games and leads the nation in points and points per game (1.76). He’s at 46-54-100 for his career.
Freshman Andrew Gladiuk is at 9-7-16 and sophomore Alex Grieve at 6-10-16 to help the Falcons lead the nation in scoring at 3.80 goals per game.
They hit the break in a gang of seven teams sitting between third and ninth in the standings and separated by just three points.
Bentley plays its next four on the road and has a couple of Hockey East challenges straight ahead. The Falcons are at UMass-Lowell on Dec. 30 and at Northeastern on Jan. 5 before resuming Atlantic Hockey play at RIT on Jan. 11 and 12.
Player of the Week
Michael Colavecchia, jr., F, RIT
Colavecchia contributed three goals and three assists in RIT’s weekend sweep of Sacred Heart. In Friday’s 5-3 win he had two goals and an assist and on Saturday he had a couple of assists and the game-winning goal. He has 5-6-11 totals for the season and has two of RIT’s four game-winning goals.
Games of the week
Canisius at Mercyhurst, Tuesday
The Griffs and Lakers do the honors and close out the pre-Christmas portion of the schedule. Mercyhurst is two points ahead of Canisius in the crowded Atlantic standings, but has also played one more game. The teams meet again in a home-and-home series on Jan. 25 and 26.
1. Niagara (10-2-4, 9-0-1) . . . Niagara outshot RIT 46-21 on Wednesday night, but had to rally for a 2-2 tie. Down 3-0 early in the second period, the Purple Eagles came back on goals by Isaac Kohls and Patrick Divjak. . . . They had their win streak snapped at eight games, but are still unbeaten in their last dozen at 9-0-3.
2. Holy Cross (9-4-2, 6-3-2) . . . Erik Vos scored his second game-winner of the season 1:54 into overtime to lift the Crusaders to a 5-4 win over Penn State on Friday and they completed the sweep with a 4-1 triumph on Saturday. . . . Junior goalie Derek Kump (Falmouth, Maine) made 32 saves on Saturday and evened his record at 1-1-0.
3. Mercyhurst (6-6-1, 6-3-0) . . . The Lakers’ first home game after 11 road contests to start the season did not go well: They lost to AIC, 7-3, on Friday night, but rebounded for a 7-2 win on Saturday. Sophomore forward Daniel Bahntge registered his second career hat trick on Saturday and classmate Chris Bodo added a pair of goals, including the winner.
4. Robert Morris (6-4-2, 4-3-1) . . . Senior goalie Eric Levine led the Colonials to a 3-2 win and 2-2 tie with Ohio State. Robert Morris won at Ohio State on Friday and the teams tied in Pittsburgh. Levine stopped 79 of the 83 shots he faced and has a 2.19 goals against average and .941 save percentage to go with his 5-2-2 record.
5. Army (5-7-2, 5-2-2) . . . The Black Knights picked up a point with a 2-2 tie at UConn on Friday night and then lost, 4-2, at Merrimack on Tuesday. Sophomore defenseman Mac Lalor (Needham, Mass.) had both goals against Merrimack, both on the power play. He’s at 4-5-9 for the season and all the goals are on the power play.
6. Canisius (5-6-4, 4-2-2) . . . Off last weekend, the Griffs close out the first half with a game at Mercyhurst on Tuesday. . . . Junior Tony Capobianco took the league’s Goaltender of the Week honors for the second straight time last week. He’s the first Griff honored in consecutive weeks since Canisius joined the league in 2003.
7. Air Force (5-7-4, 4-4-2) . . . Sophomore forward Chad Demers and senior forward Stephen Carew helped the Falcons to a three-point weekend at Bentley. Demers had five points for the weekend, four of them in a 7-4 win on Friday night. Carew had three goals in the series, including a pair on Friday.
8. Bentley (6-8-1, 5-5-1) . . . Junior forward Brett Gensler made it to the 100-point mark for his career with a couple of goals and a couple of assists in a home series against Air Force. Bentley lost the first game, 7-4, and tied the second, 2-2. . . . Sophomore goalie Blake Dougherty made 28 saves for the tie in his first career start.
9. RIT (4-8-4, 3-5-3) . . . Freshman defenseman Alexander Kuqali had one assist in his first 13 games and had two goals and two assists in a 5-3 and 5-2 sweep of Sacred Heart. . . . The Tigers followed up with a 2-2 tie on Wednesday night at Niagara in which junior forward Ben Lynch scoring both goals and junior goalie Josh Watson made 44 saves.
10. UConn (4-7-2, 3-6-1) . . . Freshman forward Tyler Bouchard and senior forward Evan Carriere had the goals in a 2-2 tie at home against Army. Bouchard has two goals, one in each of the last two games. Carriere also has a pair. . . . UConn plays AIC on Dec. 29 in the first round of the 20th annual UConn Hockey Classic.
11. AIC (4-8-3, 1-6-3) . . . Sophomore forwards Brandon Fagerheim and Jason Popek each had three points in a weekend split at Mercyhurst. Popek had two goals and an assist and Fagerheim a goal and two assists. AIC picked up its first league win, 7-3, on Friday and fell, 7-2, on Saturday.
12. Sacred Heart (0-14-2, 0-11-2) . . . Senior forward Eric Delong become the 12th player in Sacred Heart history to reach the 100-point mark with a goal and an assist in a 5-2 loss at RIT on Saturday night. He hit the mark with a third period power play goal and is now at 38-62-100 for his career.
Allen Lessels can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.