STORRS, Conn. — After a thrilling opening game between Massachusetts and Union to kick off the 2009 Toyota UConn Hockey Classic, Bentley used two opening period goals to cruise to a 4-1 victory over host Connecticut at the Mark Edward Freitas Ice Forum.
The Falcons notched their first goal at 12:54 when Trent Bonnett ripped a laser that Huskies’ goalie Garrett Bartus never appeared to have fully in his sights. James Nudy and Justin Kemmerer were credited with the assists on the play.
Bentley added its second goal in the waning seconds of the first when Ryan Kayfes blasted a shot from outside that Bartus once again never seemed to have a good read on.
“In no way do I think any of them were his fault and no way is he not ready to play,” UConn coach Bruce Marshall said of Bartus, who has only been on UConn’s campus since Dec. 26. Bartus came to the Huskies from the St. Louis Bandits of the NAHL. He replaces freshman Jeff Larson, who posted a 3.28 GAA in eleven games before deciding to leave campus and return home.
“It was a tight game to begin with and we had some power plays he had to see,” Marshall said of Bartus. “The guys felt confident with him in there.”
After hustling and grinding it out for most of the second period, the Falcons finally found the back of the net at 17:42 after the puck got stuffed in traffic and Kemmerer was able to poke it past Bartus to make it 3-0.
“I think it was obviously important to us to continue to play hard and get that third goal,” Bentley coach Ryan Soderquist said. “We came into the night knowing it was probably going to take four or five [goals] to win the game and we weren’t going to sit back on a 2-0 game.”
Sean Ambrosie’s tally four minutes into the third pulled the Huskies to within 3-1, but any spark caused by the freshman’s goal was quickly erased when Jason Krispel took a hooking penalty 24 seconds later, sending the Falcons on the power play. Marc Menzione’s low level flick found its way past Bartus at 5:36, and restored Bentley’s three goal lead.
“No doubt that was a key goal in the game,” Soderquist said. “They make it 3-1 in third period, in their home building, they finally had some energy, for us to capitalize on the power play, I think that sealed the game for us.”
Penalties hurt the Huskies, as they finished with nine, including one called against Andrew Olson at 15:07 that effectively put a damper on any hopes Connecticut had of a comeback.
Bartus may have been making his first start in net for the Huskies, but he witnessed a familiar trend that his fellow netminders have become used to: a lack of offensive support by the Huskies. They’ve tallied just six goals over their last eight contests, dating back to a 1-0 loss at Canisius on November 15.
“We had great chances tonight,” Marshall said. “We don’t want to harp on [the scoring slump] too much. They know the stats, they know what’s going on. So you don’t want to say ‘We don’t score a lot of goals, we’ve got to keep them off the boards’ because that gets in their minds.”
Kyle Rank turned away all 23 shots he faced to record the shutout for the Falcons, while Bartus finished with 32 saves in 57:13 of net time.
UConn (2-12-2, 2-9-2) will play No. 18 Union (8-4-5, 4-0-3) in the consolation game at 4:00 tomorrow while Bentley (7-7-3, 6-4-2) will face No. 15 UMass (11-5, 6-4) in the championship at 7 p.m.