The Boston College men’s hockey team fell to Bentley in a disappointing 4-2 loss in Chestnut Hill on Friday afternoon. BC looked to continue the momentum from their four-game undefeated streak in the first ever match-up between the two programs, but could not pull off the win against a surprisingly formidable Bentley defense.
The Eagles started off the game with total control on puck possession, with forwards Logan Hutsko, Oliver Wahlstrom, and Graham McPhee getting great looks right from the start. Less than a minute into the game, BC got the man advantage on a Bentley roughing penalty.
Penalties would become a major theme for both sides throughout the day, with BC looking to capitalize on a mediocre Bentley penalty killing unit–the Falcons have stopped power plays at a success rate of only 78.2% this season. The Eagles also looked to continue their strong play on the penalty kill, ranking tenth nationally and stopping 18 of their last 19 opportunities.
Despite their apparent advantage, BC couldn’t get anything in the net as the first period progressed. Most of their shots were coming from the blue line with passing lanes interrupted by a tight Bentley defense. Bentley goalie Aidan Pelino made stop after stop as BC continued to maintain puck possession, but with nothing to show for it on the board. After outshooting Bentley in the first period 10-3, the Eagles headed to the locker room to figure out how to take advantage of all their chances.
“I thought we had some exceptional plays and created chances,” BC head coach Jerry York said about the first period. “But still, the bottom line is that you have to put goals up on the board. That’s been our Achilles heel for most of the year.”
It was a sloppy start for both teams to kick-off the second period. Neither team could connect on their passes or finish on their offensive chances on the forecheck.
As the period went on, penalties would continue to pile up for both teams. Despite BC’s top penalty-killing unit, Bentley broke through first on their third power play of the game. A shot from the point by defenseman Tanner Jago deflected off BC’s Wahlstrom and found its way to the back of the net. After an unlucky goal, Bentley took the game’s first lead.
BC and Bentley would continue to hop on and off the power play for the remainder of the period; through two periods, there were nine total penalties.
In the last minute of the second period, the Eagles were hit with another penalty, a roughing penalty on Luke McInnis. Eight seconds into the power play, the Falcons were able to capitalize with a snipe from the slot from Bentley forward Will Garin to make it 2-0.
BC was outshot 13-4 in the second period after continually giving Bentley chances on the power play. With BC’s play completely turned on its head, Bentley was in the driver’s seat, in position for their greatest win in program history as they headed into the third period.
The Eagles showed some aggressiveness to start the third period, winning faceoffs and getting pucks to the net as they sought to climb out of another hole for their second consecutive game.
Yet, the Falcons matched that aggressiveness, extending their lead to three after a goal from defenseman Matt Lombardozzi. The first goal of his collegiate hockey career came with some controversy, as it appeared that a Bentley player was offsides when they entered the zone. However, the referees deemed the ruling inconclusive and the goal stood.
Bentley’s sixth penalty of the game gave BC another chance on the power play–and this time they took advantage. BC’s David Cotton put the Eagles on the board after deflecting a Michael Kim shot, making the game 3-1. Cotton has been on fire this season, collecting his seventh goal in the last five games and leading the NCAA in goals per game.
With three minutes to go in the third period, coach York decided to pull goalie Joseph Woll to get the extra attacker in crunch time. The decision paid off for York and the Eagles, as Wahlstrom cut the deficit to one goal, notching his third goal of the season.
Woll exited the game again after the goal, but Bentley forward Jake Kauppila scored a dagger with a shot beyond the red line, ending the late BC comeback. The game would end with a final score of 4-2, as Bentley secured their ninth win over a Hockey East team in program history.
Credit must be given to the Bentley defense, who recorded 13 blocked shots in the game and cleared pucks in front of the net. Pelino, who entered the game with an overall save percentage of 88%, had arguably the best game of his career.
For BC, they still have not won against a non-conference opponent in over two years. While the Hockey East proves to be great competition, the program must improve its play outside of the conference in order for the program to achieve even greater success.
The Eagles will play a home-and-home series against conference rival Boston University next weekend, with the first game at BU’s Agganis Arena on Friday night at 7:30 p.m. This is a crucial opportunity to move up in the Hockey East conference and get the season back on track.