WATERTOWN, Mass. — The first 50 minutes of hockey didn’t go awfully well for the Bentley Falcons (10-17-5) on senior night at the John A. Ryan Arena, but a gritty effort over the next 10 did the trick as Bentley rallied to force a 3-3 tie with Holy Cross (15-14-4), now unbeaten in their last 11 games.
Senior Jeremy Robert’s fifth career goal was the tying goal for Bentley. Head coach Ryan Soderquist sent fourth line winger Robert as the extra attacker when he pulled Joe Calvi with a minute and a half to play.
“I was really happy for [Robert],” said Soderquist “for a senior who doesn’t get a lot of ice time to get out there and score that one. It’s senior night so this one was all about them.”
The first 20 minutes were all about the Crusaders.
It took just under five minutes for Kyle Fletcher to get Holy Cross on the board with a power-play goal on a beautiful cross ice feed from Matt Clune. Joe Calvi’s final regular season start got worse before it would get better when Matt Gordon snapped the waterbottle off the top of the net, making it 2-0.
Bentley was fortunate to keep it a 2-0 deficit heading into the first intermission. They killed 1:45 of a Crusaders two man advantage late in the first period. Holy Cross added another goal in the second period. Once again it was Fletcher as he tallied his 12th of the season for the 3-0 lead.
“It wasn’t our first time being down,” said Calvi, who finished with 21 saves. ”We’ve come back on some good teams this season like Niagara, so confidence wasn’t an issue.”
So what did Soderquist tell his team at the second intermission to inspire their comeback? Nothing.
“I never set foot in the dressing room,” said Soderquist. ”It was their night. I told the seniors to address the team.”
The Falcons didn’t seize momentum immediately in the third period, but they proved to be opportunistic when Andrew Cox was sent to the box for four minutes on a hooking and slashing double minor.
With 15 seconds left on the power play, senior Dustin Cloutier worked a picture perfect give and go with freshman Brett Gensler. Cloutier whistled one past Adam Roy from the slot to cut the lead to 3-1. Just 59 seconds later Dan Koudys forced a turnover behind the Holy Cross net and set up a wide open Herbie Kent and in the blink of an eye a seemingly doomed Bentley team had a chance in front of a raucous crowd at the JAR on Senior Night.
“Once you get back in it, the adrenaline pumps up to where it was when the puck dropped at the beginning of the game,” said Calvi who made a handful of tremendous saves in the closing minutes to keep it a one goal game with his parents and brother in the stands from Arizona.
Soderquist pulled Calvi in the final minute and a half and Bentley narrowly avoided the dagger a couple of times. They got their break when Holy Cross iced the puck with 22 seconds left. Dustin Cloutier did what he does best and won the ensuing faceoff, setting the scene for the equalizer.
“(Brett) Gensler made a great feed to (Erik) Peterson,” said Soderquist. ”Peterson made a nice decision not to shoot because (Roy) came out and cut off the angle, and Robert did a great job crashing the net with his stick down.”
The little used senior Jeremy Robert stuffed it home to tie the game 3-3 with 18 seconds left and ignited a Bentley crowd that had been quiet for much of the night. In the overtime, Calvi—
Robert’s roommate for four years—and Roy both made tremendous stops to keep it 3-3 until the final horn.
“I was extremely happy to see Calvi bounce back after he fought it for a while in the first two periods. He made some stellar saves towards the end,” said Soderquist. The result was the same for both teams, but the reaction on the Holy Cross side was understandably different.
“We played a really good first period, a really good second period and a really good overtime,” said Holy Cross head coach Paul Pearl after the game. ”We took a bad double minor and a stupid icing when we had control of the puck. Our legs were still there in the third but out minds weren’t. I can’t remember giving up three goals in the third period to lose a lead ever.”
Still, Holy Cross enters the post season having gone unbeaten in 11 games since January 21 with a bye to the quarterfinal round and a guaranteed home series as a top four seed. Their exact placement in the standings will be finalized at the conclusion of the Air Force vs. Robert Morris game still in progress.
Next up for Bentley is a first round home game in the Atlantic Hockey Tournament against Sacred Heart next Saturday. Bentley has beaten the Pioneers in two of three meetings this season, outscoring them 14-12