|Photo Credit: Bill Rapai|
This won't be a cakewalk for Michigan. Bentley was projected to finish ahead of RIT by USCHO, Inside College Hockey and the Atlantic Hockey Coaches, and the Tigers came in to Yost and knocked off the Wolverines last week. Last year, Michigan swept the series with the Falcons by 5-1 and 4-1 scores, but the games were much closer than the final scores indicated.
Bentley's website recaps:
In the first game, Alex Grieve scored a power play goal in the first period as the Falcons led 1-0 after 20 minutes. Michigan scored twice in the second period, and held a 2-1 lead until there were less than five minutes left in the third. Michigan then scored three goals in a three minute span to put the game away.
In game two, the Wolverines led 1-0 after the first period, but Jared Rickord evened the score at 9:21 of the second period before Michigan's Phil Di Giuseppe gave them a 2-1 lead at 14:31 of the second. The score stayed that way deep into the third period, until Michigan's A.J. Reais (sic) scored at 17:49 and Alex Guptill added a late empty-net goal.
Here was my recap of last year's series.
They finished just 16-16-7 last season but they were a young, young team. Their top seven scorers all return, including the Atlantic Hockey scoring champion, Brett Gensler (23-27--50 in 40 games--13th nationally in points per game). Alex Grieve won Rookie of the Year in the league last year, scoring 34 points and just edging out fellow freshman Brett Switzer (33 points). That duo was 7th and 8th nationally in freshman scoring a year ago. Their top players are off to a good start. Gensler had four points in the win over Sacred Heart and Grieve had a pair of goals.
They're strong in net as well. Junior Branden Komm had a strong season last year (16-14-7, 2.41, .923) after an injury-plagued freshman season. Bentley does, however, have to replace three of their six regulars on the blueline from last year. They bring in the #1 recruiting class in the league to help with that.
The Falcons were middle of the pack in offense (25th nationally) a year ago, but the power play was absolutely dreadful. They ranked 54 out of 58 in power play % at 11.4%. (Michigan was 46th.) They were about where you'd expect on the PK (20th) given their team defense (26th).
Michigan will likely be without Kevin Clare, who injured his shoulder in last Friday's win. Mike Szuma is expected to enter the lineup and play with Brennan Serville.