WATERTOWN, Mass. – The Sacred Heart men's hockey team needed a late goal from Jared Eng (North Vancouver, B.C.) to salvage a 6-6 tie against the Bentley Falcons at Ryan Arena Friday night. The Pioneers led 5-1 early in the third period only to see the Falcons score five unanswered goals.
Eric Delong (Oakville, Man.) had three points on the night with a goal and two assists. Ryan Stanimir (West Vancouver, B.C.), Brian Sheehan (St. Louis, Mo.), and Nick Curry (Augusta, Ga.) each had two assists in the game. Ben Ketchum (Greenwich, Conn.) had two points on a goal and an assist.
For the second game in a row, Sacred Heart (1-26-3, 1-19-3 AHA) got off to a fast start. Chad Barthelmess (Norristown, Pa.) knocked in a Sheehan rebound 29 seconds into the game to put the Pioneers ahead 1-0. The Pioneers had a chance to go up 2-0 four minutes in but Drew George's (Regina, Sask.) one-timer was stopped by Bentley (12-15-3, 10-11-3) goaltender Branden Komm. The Falcons had a chance midway through the period to even the game with a power play. Andrew Bodnarchuk (Saskatoon, Sask.) made three big saves and saw two other shots go off the posts as Sacred Heart killed off the penalty.
Bentley eventually tied the game 1-1 with 1:25 remaining as Alex Kubiak put a deflected shot in the net. The Pioneers bounced back 46 seconds later, when Delong put a Stanimir feed past Komm to give Sacred Heart a 2-1 lead heading into intermission. Curry also assisted on Sacred Heart's go-ahead tally late in the period.
Bodnarchuk kept Sacred Heart in front early in the second period, making a sprawling save on a Jared Rickord backhand with 16:50 to play. Less than a minute later, Sheehan made a nifty pass from behind the Bentley net to Barthelmess but Komm made the save on the subsequent shot. The Pioneers took a 3-1 lead with 14:24 remaining in the second when Curry found Ben Lake (Calgary, Alb.) in the slot. Lake ripped a shot right between Komm's legs to put Sacred Heart ahead by two. George put the Pioneers ahead 4-1 after slapping a one-timer from Ketchum into the back of the net. Bryan Felice (Middletown, N.J.) forced the Bentley turnover that allowed him to get the puck to Ketchum to start the breakout for the goal.
With 1:13 left in the second period, Stanimir went into the penalty box for cross-checking. The Pioneers had a shorthanded opportunity when Delong and Barthelmess had a 2-on-1 stopped by Komm. The Falcons' Brett Gensler had two shots blocked before the end of the period, with Sacred Heart taking a 4-1 lead after two periods. The Pioneers outshot Bentley 15-9 in the second period. Sacred Heart killed off the remaining 47 seconds of the Stanimir penalty to start the third period.
The Pioneers extended the lead to 5-1 when Ketchum guided a Chad Filteau (Regina, Sask.) pass just inside the goal post with 17:34 left to play. Bentley, however, came roaring back. The Falcons got that goal back with 16:23 remaining when Rickord knocked a rebound into the goal, making the score 5-2. Brett Switzer then cut Sacred Heart's lead to two, 5-3, at the 14:36 mark with a goal from Gensler and Alex Grieve. Twenty-three seconds, Michael Reardon blasted a shot from the blue line off of a faceoff and into the net to make the deficit one, 5-4.
Sacred Heart had an opportunity to back ahead by two with 12:52 to play as the Pioneers went on the power play for the first, and only, time on the evening. After a turnover at the blue line, Bentley's Justin Breton scored a breakaway shorthanded goal to the game 5-5 with 11:30 to play. The Falcons outshot the Pioneers 19-9 in the third period, and wrapped up their comeback by taking the lead with 6:44 to play. Gensler put a Switzer pass in the net to put Bentley in the lead 6-5. The Pioneers, however, had one more goal in them. With less than three minutes remaining in the third, Eng capped off a breakaway with Sheehan and Delong with a shot over the shoulder of Bentley goaltender Gabe Antoni to tie the game 6-6.
Each team had one quality chance in overtime. Stanimir had a breakaway chance stopped two minutes into the extra period. Breton had a shot go off the crossbar but not into the goal 30 seconds later. Bentley took a flurry of shots late in the period, only one of which was on goal and was saved by Bodnarchuk to ensure the tie.
For the game, the Falcons outshot the Pioneers 41-39. Bodnarchuk made 35 saves in goal for Sacred Heart while the combination of Komm and Antoni had 33 saves for Bentley.
The two teams wrap up their home-and-home series Saturday night at 7 p.m. at the Milford Ice Pavilion on Newtown Community Day. All Newtown residents will get free admission with a valid ID for the game.