Bentley Hockey Heating Up After Slow Start

Bentley senior forward Brett Gensler - Sports Pix

Bentley has one of the most explosive offenses in Atlantic Hockey, but it's the play of its senior goaltender that could make the difference.

The season started with such high hopes. A strong nucleus of forwards returned as did a defense with one more year of experience and a reliable senior goaltender.

An exciting win at Nebraska-Omaha on opening night gave even more reason for the optimism surrounding the Bentley University hockey program.

Then came six consecutive losses, including a shocking defeat at the hands of Sacred Heart. The naysayers once again started spouting off, but since then Bentley has turned things around.

Bentley is 3-0-1 in its last four games, including taking three points from Air Force in Colorado Springs this past weekend. After starting the season 1-6 Bentley is 4-1-1 in its last six outings.

Heading into the season much of the attention was on senior Brett Gensler, and rightfully so. After all, the St. Charles, Mo. native won the Walter Brown Award as a sophomore for being the top American-born college hockey player in New England.

However, it is junior Alex Grieve who has stolen the spotlight through 13 games. The Calgary, Alberta native was certainly not an unknown commodity. He had 65 points in 74 career games through his first two seasons in Waltham. The former Westside Warrior has taken his game to a new level this season. He has nine goals and eight assists on the year, but he has turned it up a notch recently. Grieve has a seven-game point streak with six goals and seven assists for 13 points.

Junior defenseman Steve Weinstein has been an integral part of the scoring from the blue line. He has 15 assists so far this season, seven of which have been on the man advantage. Sophomore forward Andrew Gladiuk has eight goals to place second on the team in that category.

The offense is nice, but as head coach Ryan Soderquist said before the season, his team will only go as far as its team defense takes it. Sometimes a good goalie is the best way to improve the overall team defense, and that is where senior Branden Komm comes in. The Williamsville, NY native garnered some NHL interest last season which led to the Ottawa Senators inviting him to the team's development camp this past summer.

Komm certainly was not to blame for the Falcons' poor start by any means, but he is a big reason for the recent four game unbeaten streak. During that stretch he has a 1.46 goals against average and a .950 save percentage with one shutout.

Bentley will look to add to its current unbeaten streak this weekend as it plays host to Robert Morris in a two-game series at the John A. Ryan Skating Rink in Watertown. Game time is set for 7 p.m. both nights.

Jeff Cox covers college and junior hockey, NCAA recruiting, NHL Draft prospects and the AHL for SBNation. Follow him on twitter @JeffCoxSBNation.

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