ERIE, Pa. — Wild. Woolly. Maybe even a little freaky.
Those words probably best describe Tuesday’s 4-4 tie between Atlantic Hockey rivals Mercyhurst and Bentley, played before a crowd of 775 at the Mercyhurst Ice Center.
Undisciplined? That could be the best word to describe Mercyhurst’s play.
Aggressive but unopportunistic? That might have been Bentley.
In the end, one word was for certain — it was a wash.
Trailing 4-3 with time running down in regulation, the Lakers, who took 18 penalties to six for Bentley — and 12 straight at one point — got a shorthanded goal from defenseman Preston Briggs to tie the game at 4 and salvage a point from a game that appeared to belong to the Falcons.
With the tie, Mercyhurst moved to 5-9-3 overall, and 4-1-3 in the conference. Mercyhurst remains in fourth place in AH, two points behind Holy Cross (5-2-3), which defeated Sacred Heart 3-2 on Tuesday. Bentley is now 3-10-4 overall, and 2-5-3 in AH. The tie left the Falcons in sixth place, one point behind Quinnipiac (3-2-2), which played to a 4-4 tie with Canisius Tuesday.
After having played their first game since Dec. 11, and just their third home game of the season, the Lakers get no rest, as they host archrival Quinnipiac on Wednesday.
Mercyhurst coach Rick Gotkin (17th year, 303-178-31) said that the penalty situation in Tuesday’s game was unlike anything he’s seen.
Which left him, in his own words, “horrified.”
“It was such a crazy game from a penalty-power play standpoint,” Gotkin said, referring to the Lakers’ 68 minutes in penalties to 22 for the Falcons — on Mercyhurst’s home ice.
“I’ve never been in a game like this in my 17 years here,” Gotkin said. “We took 14 minor penalties, they took six, and I thought they took several that didn’t get called for some reason.
“I was horrified. Absolutely horrified by what I saw out there today,” he said. “Getting 12 in a row — I’ve never seen such a thing. This is no way that hockey should be played.”
Bentley coach Ryan Soderquist (3rd year, 27-48-8) said that he felt fortunate to come out of Mercyhurst’s building with a point, even though his team went just 2-of-13 with a man advantage, which they owned a good portion of the game.
“We came out with some jump tonight,” Soderquist said. “I think we’re starting to realize that we’re a good team, and can play with anybody.”
Soderquist agreed with Gotkin about the nature of the game. But he said that he’d take it.
“It was quite wild, with all the penalties and up and down,” Soderquist said. “We didn’t capitalize, and Mercyhurst battled back after killing all those penalties. Give them credit, their bench was low in numbers after they lost three players late in the game.
“But I was pretty happy that we didn’t lose the lead in the third,” Soderquist said. “We’ll take the tie on the road.”
The three players that Mercyhurst lost, all in the last half of the third period, were all forwards, sophomore Scott Champagne (misconduct), senior David Wrigley (misconduct, game misconduct) and sophomore Kyle Gourgon (misconduct).
“There’s no question, some of the penalties that we took were clearly deserved,” Gotkin said. “My issue is that the calls didn’t go both ways.”
Even though his team scored late in the game to earn the point, Gotkin was not as satisfied with the tie as Soderquist.
“Ties are ties,” Gotkin said. “We’re glad that we got a point, but mad that we didn’t get two points. But that’s how it goes.”
Bentley made a statement early when Josh Chase scored off a deflection of Seth Vinocur’s shot just 1 minute, 35 seconds into the game, putting the Falcons up 1-0. The goal was Chase’s second of the season.
Five minutes later, junior David Borrelli got his team-leading 10th goal of the season to tie the game, 1-1. Borrelli’s goal, which was a power play score while Jake Plattner was off for high-sticking, came from 10 feet on the right side after a feed from Gourgon from behind the net.
At 4:00 of the second period, defenseman Conrad Martin gave Mercyhurst its only lead of the game, 2-1. Martin scored on a rising one-timer from the right point that went right over the head of Bentley goalie Simon St. Pierre, who was screened. The goal was the second for Martin, a junior; freshman Matt Warren assisted.
Josh Thompson retied the game, 2-2, six minutes later. Streaking in on a 2-on-1, Thompson skated right in on Mercyhurst goalie Andy Franck, then skated left. While flat on his back, Franck stretched his right arm to make the save, but Thompson continued to whack at the puck while Franck attempted to smother it. Martin, trying to push it into Franck, instead nudged it past him, giving Thompson the goal (his second).
Chase scored his second of the game, at 1:55 of the third period, to put the Falcons back into the lead, 3-2. Chase’s goal, his third of the season, was a power play goal, with Champagne sitting after a high-sticking call at the conclusion of the second period. Chase’s shot from the blue line deflected off Briggs and past Franck.
Freshman Ben Cottreau sent the game into yet another tie, 3-3, by poking the puck past St. Pierre from the doorstep at 4:52 of the third period. Cottreau’s goal was his fifth, and came off a feed from Lakers’ captain Scott Reynolds.
Bentley scoring leader Brendan McCartin, a junior, then put the Falcons up 4-3 when he walked though Mercyhurst’s triangle defense to beat Franck from 10 feet while the Lakers were two men short. McCartin’s goal, which came at 14:33 of the third, was his seventh.
“All we wanted to do all night on the power play was to get shots on net, and we did that,” McCartin said. “I got a good pass from Kyle Larman, and I took a shot, but looked down and didn’t know where it went. The next thing I knew, the red light was on and it was a goal.”
Finally, with the Lakers down a man, Briggs notched the game’s last goal, and his first of the season, with 2:56 remaining in regulation.
“I was just following up the play, and saw that Denny (Kirstein) had taken a quick shot that was blocked,” Briggs said. “(Rich) Hansen recovered the puck, so I just went as hard as I could. I saw a little opening, and he hit me on the tape. (I took a) slapshot, and it went in. I was real happy about that.”
Briggs’ goal beat St. Pierre five-hole.
In overtime, Bentley outshot Mercyhurst 3-2, but nobody could muster a game-winner.
For the game, the Lakers outshot the Falcons 43-38. St. Pierre’s record moved to 2-6-4, while Franck’s is now 5-7-3.
The Lakers made good on 1-of-5 power plays to 2-of-13 for the Falcons.
“We had a lot of penalties, but you’ve got to find a way to battle through that stuff,” Reynolds said. “We can’t be taking penalties like that, and giving yourself a short bench. That’s not what you want.”