WALTHAM, Mass. — The Bentley Falcons opened their 2009 playoff campaign with a 6-3 win over the Canisius Golden Griffins Friday night at the John A. Ryan Skating Arena.
Bentley held a 2-0 advantage by the midway point of period one but Canisius climbed back to even the score just after the halfway point of the game. But Bentley would answer with another two goals of their own on the power play to regain the two goal lead.
Canisius fought back and pulled within one in the opening minutes of the third but despite offensive pressure and chances in and around the Falcons net, the Griffins could not find the equalizer. The Falcons would add another two, including one into the empty net before time expired.
We played a very good playoff game, Canisius head coach Dave Smith said. Our guys competed extremely hard and we were working for our bounces. Bentley capitalized on some of their opportunities tonight and that got them the win.
Marc Menzione skated up the right wing and sent a pass across to the edge of the left circle. Erik Peterson received the pass and shot it in at 3:34 for the opening goal. Bobby Preece also received an assist on the play.
Jeff Gumaer and Dain Prewitt then skated in with speed on a 2-on-1 with trailers from both teams crossing the Canisius blue line. Once again, a pass from the right wing hit the Bentley player to the left of the net and the puck went in off Prewitts skate for the goal at 8:55.
We have excellent team speed, Bentley head coach Ryan Soderquist said. We utilized it on the rush and we were able to score a couple of goals.
Canisius struck back at 17:57 of the first when Josh Heidingers high shot beat Bentley goalie Kyle Rank. Adam Brace and Dave Kostuch notched assists on the goal.
A shorthanded goal by Canisius evened the score at 11:32. Eric Rex forced a turnover behind the Bentley net and got it to Kostuch. He skated from behind the goal line out in front, held the puck and circled the crease with Rank trying to maintain position on him. Kostuch waited until he reached the left side of the goal line before sending the puck at the net for the goal.
But Bentley would answer with two power play goals in less than three minutes. Prewitt skated up the right wing from his own zone on a three-on-two. His shot from the right circle beat Morrison over the blocker at 13:47.
Anthony Canzoneri capitalized for the Falcons next when Morrison got caught out of position. A Canisius defender slid to stop Canzoneri in the slot from an open goal but the puck got through for the score.
An excellent individual effort by freshman Adam Brace enabled the Griffins to pull within one again. Brace stayed strong on the puck while being defended against and powered himself at the Bentley net. Kostuch was able to stuff in his rebound at 1:44 of the third period for his second of the game.
Bentley held off Canisius pressure midway through the third period. Twice the Falcons goaltender froze the puck in the crease with Canisius forwards jamming away looking for the equalizer. The Griffins fired sixteen shots at the Falcons net in the third period alone.
An unfortunate bounce for Canisius at 14:42 gave Bentley a cushion. Justin Kemmerers shot from along the right boards near the face off dot deflected off a defensemans skate and past Morrison for the 5-3 advantage.
After minor penalties to both teams, the Griffins pulled their goalie with 1:30 remaining in regulation to create a 5-on-4 situation. Canisius put pressure in and around the crease for the first 50 seconds trying to score two quick goals. Defenseman Carl Hudson came the closest for the Griffins, sending a shot from the point off the crossbar.
Brendan Harrison added the empty-net tally for the Falcons on a two-on-one rush.
We played really well tonight, Kostuch said. We were all over them the whole game. They did get a couple bounces here and there and if they went our way it could have been a different game. We had our chances and couldnt capitalize on some of them. It just didnt happen today.
Canisius outshot Bentley 34-24 in the game and Rank recorded 31 saves for the Falcons while Morrison stopped 18 for the Griffins. Bentley went two-for-three on the power play and held Canisius off the board in four opportunities.
The guys are ready, Prewitt said. This is the best chance weve had in my career. I think the younger guys understand that and we have a great squad. We have the opportunity to win this tournament and win the league. Guys are putting their neck on the line. They are blocking shots and doing what they have to do to win battles and win us games.
The teams will face off again tomorrow at 7:05 p.m. in the best of three series.