BUFFALO, N.Y. — There are two kinds of good luck: fortune, which shines upon a person who stumbles into the right place at the right time and opportunity, which appears to someone who worked to be in that favorable position.
The Bentley University mens ice hockey team created the latter variety on Friday night.
Unshaken after surrendering a two goal cushion in the second period and — eventually — their lead with less than seven minutes left in the game, the Falcons maintained their aggressive style and scored twice in the final five minutes to eke out a 5-4 road victory over Atlantic Hockey rival Canisius at the Buffalo State Ice Arena in Buffalo.
We thought that we let them back in the game, said Bentley Coach Ryan Soderquist, whose Falcons have now defeated the Golden Griffins in 13 of their last 17 matchups, including the 2008-09 Atlantic Hockey Quarterfinals.
(Canisius) played well, he continued. They battled all the way down, they came back on us, and we came back on them. You had two good teams tonight just battling it out, and we were lucky enough to be able to put a couple home at the end.
The game was settled on freshman forward Brett Hartungs power-play goal at the 16:54 mark of the third period, capping a wild six minute stretch in which the score was tied or the lead changed four times.
The game winner was emblematic of the Falcons grit-without-glamour attack on this damp, chilly night in Western New York. Hartung was able to corral a bouncing puck near the left post and redirect a shot past Griffs goaltender Andrew Loewen to seal the deal for the visitors.
The point man took the shot, and one of their guys tried to block it with his hand and it just kind of trickled down to my stick, Hartung said. I just grabbed the puck, and wrapped it around. It was just a good play by everybody, moving the puck and staying composed the whole time on the power play.
Bentley jumped out to a 2-0 lead, taking advantage of fortuitous circumstances on a night when the puck seemed, at times, to have a mind of its own. Freshman center Joe Campanelli opened the scoring near midway point of the first period, swooping onto a loose puck that Loewen was unable to corral at the top of the crease.
Junior forward Dustin Cloutier increased the advantage with just under eight minutes before the first intermission when he leaned past a defender on a one-man break and slipped a shot beneath Loewen at the left post.
Canisius — still reeling from a pair of West Point whippings at Army last weekend ” battled back. Senior defenseman Carl Hudson fired a laser past Bentley netminder Kyle Rank on a 5-on-3 power play less than one minute into the second period, cutting the lead to 2-1, and junior forward Eric Rex tied the score on a breakaway up the left wing four minutes later.
Its frustrating to be down early, said Griffs coach Dave Smith, whose team is now 0-7-1 this season when trailing after the first period. But I thought we showed good mental toughness to stay with it and come back and eventually tie the game.
Senior forward Justin Kemmerer would return the Falcons lead at 10:50 of the second period, and the score would stay locked at 3-2 until the fateful stretch of the third period.
The scoring melee began when Canisius center Josh Heidinger converted on a short-handed breakaway, tying the score at 3-3.
Two minutes later, Matt Zuke would give the Griffs their only lead of the game at 4-3. After a seemingly innocuous shot off the boards by linemate Scott Moser, Zuke — a junior forward — found himself alone with the puck at the right post and chopped a shot past Rank.
Any euphoria was short-lived. Maintaining the confrontational style that stymied the Griffs throughout the contest, Bentley tied the score with 4:40 remaining when Cloutier batted a shot behind Loewen for his second goal, and the 5-4 win was sealed on Hartungs late tally.
Im very pleased with our goals tonight, Soderquist said. We had a lot of goals right down there in the paint. We were fighting right to the end. The tying goal was down in the crease, and the go-ahead goal on the power play was right in the crease, fighting for a loose puck. Im very happy with the way our guys competed.
Rank finished with 22 saves in the win while Loewen stopped 30 shots for Canisius. Cloutier finished with three points for the Falcons and defenseman Micah Williams recorded a pair of assists in the win.
The Falcons (6-6-3 overall, 5-3-2 in Atlantic Hockey) and Golden Griffins (7-9-1, 6-6-1) will meet again on Saturday at 7 p.m. in Buffalo.