WEST POINT, N.Y. – For the second time in as many days, the Army hockey team and Bentley skated to a tie at Tate Rink as the two teams played to 2-2 deadlock on Saturday night.
Army (7-19-4, 7-15-4 AHA) got goals from Maurice Alvarez and Nick DeCenzo, including a shorthanded tally from DeCenzo. Joe Kozlak, Blake Box and Tyler Pham were credited with assists in the game. Parker Gahagen was in net for fourth-straight game and made 25 saves between the pipes.
“For two nights our guys gave a great effort against Bentley, who is a great hockey team,” head coach Brian Riley. “I am Proud of all the guys. They had a great performance and all of our penalty killers had a great game. This is a team that has grown and gotten better as the season has gone on. We are playing the best hockey as the playoff stretch approaches. This is the best time for our team to see success.”
With Air Force tying tonight and Sacred Heart winning against Holy Cross, means Army will head to the Pioneers in the opening round of the Atlantic Hockey Tournament on the weekend of March 6-8.
Bentley (16-11-5, 14-7-5 AHA) saw Andrew Gladiuk finish with two points on a goal and an assist, while Max French scored the game-tying goal on the power play in the second period. French also finished with two points as he assisted on Gladiuk’s goal in the opening frame. Jayson Argue came up big for the Falcons all night long and made 33 saves, including three in the extra stanza.
The Falcons took the early lead 7:16 into the game with Gladiuk scoring his 18th of the season. The puck was sent along the blueline from French to Matt Maher and Maher put the puck on net. Gladiuk was skating through the slot and got a piece of the shot. It dived down after Gahagen had planned for a high shot and Army was down 1-0.
The Black Knights responded late in the frame with Alvarez netting his sixth of the year. Kozlak skated the puck from behind the net up to the high slot and he spotted Alvarez at the far post. He threw a beautiful pass through two defenders onto the tape of Alvarez’s stick and he connected on the one-timer to tie the game at 1-1 with eight minutes left in the opening frame.
Gahagen pushed aside four shots in the period and all four were great stops, while Argue made nine stops in the first period.
DeCenzo gave Army its first lead of the game at 2-1 at the 3:48 mark of the second frame with the team’s second shorthanded goal of the season. Pham blocked a shot from the point and collected the puck at the blueline. He skated in with DeCenzo on a 2-on-1 and he shoveled the puck over the stick of the defender to DeCenzo. The forward ripped a one-timer under the bar to give the Black Knights a 2-1 lead with his third of the year.
The advantage didn’t last long as Bentley scored on the same power play less than a minute later to knot the game at 2-2 going into the third. It was another tipped shot in front. Steve Weinstein wound up from the high slot. As the puck left his stick, French was skating between the circles and he redirected the shot past Gahagen.
Bentley controlled the play in the third period by slim margin with an 11-9 shot advantage. The Falcons had two power play opportunities, but couldn’t cash in as they only managed two shots.
The play picked up in the overtime with each team getting great chances. Conor Andrle had the best out of all of them as he spun around in the slot and found himself open. He ripped a shot that Argue stopped with an impressive glove stop to earn the tie. The shot came with less than 15 seconds left in overtime. The Black Knights had a 3-2 shot advantage in the extra frame.
Bentley went 1-for-5 on the power play, while Army got three chances and didn’t score. Overall, Army outshot the Falcons by a 35-27 margin.
Army is back on the ice next weekend for a home-and-home series with American International to close out the regular season. Saturday night is Senior Night at Tate Rink. To purchase tickets, visit www.goARMYsports.com/tickets, call 1-877-TIX-ARMY or stop by the Army Ticket Office located at Gate 3 of Michie Stadium.
Ice Shavings: This was the 55th meeting between the two teams … Army leads the series at 23-21-10 …the two schools played for times in the 2014-15 regular season … Mac Lalor and assistant coach Zack McKelvie celebrated birthdays … in attendance tonight was David Santee, 1980 U.S. Olympic figure skater and father of USMA ’14 grad and former hockey player Mike Santee … Tyler Pham leads the team with 18 assists … DeCenzo scored Army’s second shortie of the year and the first of his career … Army is unbeaten in the last three meetings with the Falcons at 1-0-2.