WATERTOWN, Mass. -- In the Atlantic Hockey Association, there's something about the Bentley-Holy Cross rivalry that brings the best out of both teams.
The two Massachusetts-based foes capped off their weekend series with a second straight overtime contest on Saturday night at the John A. Ryan Skating Arena.
Bentley dominated the first 40 minutes of play, but sat back as the visitors from Worcester put home a goal in the third period and another in overtime to steal a 2-1 win and maintain their stamp in a tie for the top spot in the league standings.
"I think they controlled the game for the first two periods, and we were sluggish," Holy Cross head coach David Berard said after his team improved to 10-6-1 and 9-3-1 in AHC play. "We turned some pucks over as we were definitely on our heels, but then coming out in the third right off the opening draw, we got some legs and just kept building."
Junior Mike Barrett scored the Crusaders' winning goal just 69 seconds into overtime, picking up a bouncing shot in the slot for his team-leading tenth goal of the season.
Bentley doubled its opposition in shots on goal in a scoreless first period, holding a 14-7 mark as each team saw work on the power play.
Assistant captain Max French, whose ten goals as a junior lead the Falcons, nearly had one more as he hit pipe after beating Holy Cross sophomore Paul Berrafato to his right side. Berrafato stopped every shot he faced in the opening frame, a night after making double-digit saves in the first two periods.
"As the craziness ensued, he was the one guy on our team who was nice and calm. When you're goalie is calm, everyone else can generate from that," Berard said of Berrafato, who finished the night with 32 saves. "When Paul needed to make a save, he made a save. That was a big part of us coming back. He kept us in it, because it could have been 4-0."
The Falcons finally drew first blood at the 18:15 mark of the second period. Senior defenseman Billy Eiserman's shot from the point found its way through traffic and beat Berrafato. Junior Tyler Deresky was the last Falcon to touch the puck, getting a stick on Eiserman's shot at the net front for his second goal of the season.
Bentley held a 15-10 shooting advantage in the second en route to scoring the game's first goal for the ninth time this season.
The Crusaders poured on ten shots on goal before allowing one in the third, but Bentley senior goaltender Gabe Antoni continued standing tall in his ninth straight start in the absence of sophomore Jayson Argue.
"I thought the second period was one of the best periods we've had all year, and unfortunately we sat back on our heels and let them take the game to us in the third period in our own building with two points up for grabs," Bentley head coach Ryan Soderquist said. "We stopped skating and playing with confidence. My expectations were a lot higher with this group, and I'm extremely disappointed in that."
Despite turning the tables from the first two periods, it took Holy Cross until the 15:20 mark of the final frame to equalize as sophomore Scott Pooley fired from the top of the left side and beat Antoni through traffic.
Pooley, whose father Paul is associate head coach at Notre Dame, has scored in five consecutive games for the Crusaders. Holy Cross managed just one goal against Antoni in Friday's 1-1 tie, and it came off the stick of Pooley in the second period.
Each team managed just one shot on goal in the extra session, but Barrett's was the only one the Crusaders would need as they won for the sixth time in the last seven games.
After sophomore centerman T.J. Moore won the draw back to defenseman Tommy Muratore, linemate Danny Lopez found Barrett between the circles for a shot that squeaked through Antoni.
"T.J. did a great job winning the faceoff, which allowed everything to happen," Barrett said. "And then I saw Tommy Muratore get the puck. He got a shot through, it hit someone coming through. It just fell, and I just tried to get it on net as quick as I could and hopefully catch the goalie off guard, and it found a way through."
Saturday night's game marked the 61st all-time meeting between the programs. Holy Cross boats the all-time edge at 32-20-8 and also sports a 3-2-2 record in its last seven games at the JAR.
No matter the records, it has always proved to be an exciting matchup. This weekend, again, didn't disappoint.
"Bentley's a very, very good hockey team and it's been a great rivalry for us over the course of the years," Berard said. "I have nothing but respect for Ryan (Soderquist) and his program and what they've been able to do. Every year we play them, it's nip and tuck right until the end. This weekend was no different."