After making it to the league championship game in 2005-06, a seventh-place finish was a disappointment for Bentley coach Ryan Soderquist and crew.
The Falcons won just 12 games last season and their longest winning streak was a pair of games. Bentley was last in the league in team defense — rarely getting blown out but rarely giving up less than four goals a game.
“No pointing fingers, but we didn’t get the goaltending from a senior (Ray Jean) that took us to the finals a year before,” said Soderquist. “We didn’t play good team defense in general. We’d give up a couple of early goals and that would put pressure on him and everyone else. We’d start to press and you know what happens then — you wind up giving up more goals a lot of the time.”
The good news is that everybody but Jean is back this season, and there’s plenty of talent on the Bentley roster, probably more than indicated by the Falcons’ projected ninth-place finish in the preseason poll.
“I’m sure our guys will feel some lack of respect, but I can understand it based on last season,” Soderquist said. “We went through a bad stretch and then lost some close games in January and February. But I think we’ve regrouped and will get back to where we want to be.”
Junior Jason Kearney will see the bulk of time in net, but not all of it, according to Soderquist.
“I’ve had one main goalie for the past couple of seasons but this year I think I’ve got a 1 and a 1-A”, he said, speaking of freshman Joe Calvi.
“He was the MVP in his league (the NEJHL),” said Soderquist. “He’ll definitely be in the mix.”
Expected to pick up where they left off are a pair of high-scoring juniors: Jeff Gumaer (33 points last season) and Dain Prewitt (28). Jay Judd will anchor a defense that looks to improve on last year.
“We need these guys to continue to step up and play like we know they can,” said Soderquist. “They need to do well on the ice and in the classroom, which is even more important.”
Bentley was highly ranked in U.S. News and World Report’s annual college guide, and Soderquist joked that it’s a blessing and a curse.
“We’re on the bus and you see all the guys with their laptops out and you think, ‘That’s good. They’re concentrating on their studies.’ Then you stop and think, ‘But that means they’re not concentrating on hockey.’
“But I’d much rather have it that way. We led the league in players on the all-academic team and we’re proud of that.”