Watertown, Mass. -- It certainly wasn't the prettiest game either team has been involved in, but two points is still two points for second place Bentley. The Falcons recovered from blowing a three-goal third period lead to defeat Army in overtime, 5-4, on Saturday night at the John A. Ryan Skating Arena.
It was a sloppy game with six of the nine goals scored on the man advantage, but it was an entertaining back-and-forth affair to watch for the fans who braved the elements as snow once again fell on the region.
"That was a great hockey game. I love playing against Bentley. What Ryan and his staff have done to make this a championship type program is amazing," said Army coach Brian Riley.
Bentley freshman forward Tyler Deresky has been in and out of the lineup in his first collegiate season, but he picked up his first two career goals this weekend, including the overtime game-winner.
The Flemington, NJ native was streaking down the left side as Alex Kubiak raced in from the right. Deresky was right there on the doorstep to knock in the rebound off Kubiak's shot at 2:18 of the extra period.
"We had a big chance to block some shots in the defensive end and the turnover happened. I just saw an opportunity to jump up in the play and Kubiak threw a nice shot, low and hard. The rebound popped out nicely to me," said Deresky.
"It's crazy. We have a great scoring opportunity down this end, and wouldn't you know it, they come down and score at the other end," said Riley.
"At the end of the day I'm proud that we found a way to respond. Good teams find a way to win even when it's not your best night," said Bentley coach Ryan Soderquist.
The game wouldn't have even been in overtime if it wasn't for three Army goals in the final 7:45 of regulation.
"I give our guys a lot of credit, down 4-1 against a team like this, I'm just really proud of our guys. I just wish they were rewarded tonight. I thought they might have deserved a little bit better fate," explained Riley.
"The big thing was we didn't give up. Our guys have shown resiliency. They've proven that they can come back. We just need to get over the top," added Riley.
Joe Koziak scored his sixth and seventh goals of the season a little over three minutes apart to get Army within one after trailing by three, the second of which came on the man advantage.
With the goaltender pulled for the extra attacker and the Black Knights already on the power play, Riley's team was able to knot the score at four when Clint Carlisle was there to finish off a shot by C.J. Reuschlein.
"To give up three goals like that at the end of the game was a little disturbing. That was the first time we've really unraveled defensively. We're a better team than that and have better leadership than that," said Soderquist.
Despite being concerned with his own team's failure in the waning moments of the hockey game, the 12th year head coach of his alma mater gave Army kudos for a hard-fought effort.
"I certainly give Army credit. They were phenomenal tonight. They are a great team and play with a ton of energy. They should be really proud of their game," said Soderquist.
Another major reason Army was able to force overtime was sensational play of freshman goaltender Parker Gahagen who stopped 35 shots on the night. Many of the shots he had to stop were from in tight on the numerous power play and other scoring opportunities the Falcons had, including one five-minute major.
"Parker did a great job. He weathered storms for us. He gave us a chance. You can't put Bentley on the power play," said Riley.
The game started off ominously with Army freshman forward Joe Bruckler having to be carted off with an apparent head injury after he was the victim of a clean, but hard hit along the penalty boards stanchion.
The Black Knights responded to the adversity by scoring the first goal of the game 11:20 into the opening frame on a tally by Reuschlein. Carlisle and Maurice Alvarez assisted on the power play tally.
Captain Jared Rickford gave Bentley some momentum heading into the dressing room when he evened the score with just 17 seconds to play in the opening period.
Bentley scored the only goal of the second period on the first of three power play tallies for the Falcons on the night. Derek Bacon swatted in a loose puck out in front after some nice puck movement from Brett Switzer and Matt Blomquist.
Andrew Gladiuk gave the Falcons a three-goal advantage with two quick power play scores just over two minutes apart starting at the 5:51 mark. Both goals were similar and came as a direct result of some nice passing at the point by defensemen Steve Weinstein and Blomquist.
Weinstein picked up his 32nd and 33rd assists of the season, setting a new Bentley program record for most assists in a single season. The goals were the 18th and 19th of the season for Gladiuk, the reigning Atlantic Hockey Association Rookie of the Year.
"Steve certainly has great vision and poise with the puck," said Soderquist.
Bentley senior goaltender Branden Komm made 28 saves to pick up his 16th win of the season.
The Falcons (16-10-4) face a home-and-home series with Sacred Heart next weekend. Bentley enters the last four games just two points behind first place Mercyhurst.
Army (3-24-0) squares off against UConn in a home-and-home series with its playoff fate already sealed. The Black Knights are locked into the 12th spot and will travel on the road for the first round to face the fifth seed, whatever team that might be.
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Jeff Cox covers college, junior and high school hockey, NCAA recruiting and NHL Draft prospects. Follow him on twitter @JeffCoxSBNation.