Bentley joins a handful of bottom-half preseason picks in wondering what things between the pipes will look like this season. With the graduation of Simon St. Pierre, who recorded all but six decisions last season, the Falcons will hope to answer the goaltending question immediately with the addition of Ray Jean, a transfer from Maine.
Jean, who sat out last season, came to Bentley last fall after serving as third-string backup to all-American netminder Jimmy Howard. It is head coach Ryan Soderquist’s hope that Jean can make an immediate impact due to his age and experience.
“Ray Jean should carry the bulk of the games,” said Soderquist, who noted that Jason Kearney, MVP of the North American Junior Hockey League last season, can serve as a solid backup. “It’ll be interesting to see who can step up to the plate, but it’s a question mark right now.”
Outside of goaltending, this year’s Bentley hockey club is actually one of the more experienced in the league. The senior leadership on the club could make it a contender if the Falcons can address a handful of holes in the team’s game immediately.
The first hole comes on the power play, and Soderquist is going to look to a senior to right that ship.
Brendan McCartin, who has been a solid producer for the Falcons at forward despite having a bit of a slow year last season, will move back a few steps to play defense this year. Soderquist hopes that, if anything, McCartin can not only add size and skill to the blueline, but also an offensive punch that’s missing, particularly on the power play.
About McCartin, Soderquist said that the senior blueliner “needs to come to be one of the top players in the league, not just on the team.” Soderquist hopes that McCartin will take on the role of the offensive defenseman that has been missing since the graduation of Steve Tobio, who tallied 120 points in four seasons, in 2002.
“When you look back at our power-play percentages, they were higher back [when Tobio quarterbacked the power play],” Soderquist said. “To be able to stand on that power play with confidence and know when to take the shot or when to make the pass, that’s what’s been the difference.”
If Soderquist has another major concern, it’s how his team will play early in the season. Last year, the Falcons fell behind early and entered the Christmas break with just two league wins. If the team’s goal is to earn a home-ice bid, it will need a much faster start than that.