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Scouting Report: Merrimack vs. Bentley

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Merrimack College and Bentley will meet on Friday night at Bentley’s new on-campus arena. This will be Merrimack’s first road test under new head coach Scott Borek. Exclusively for TMR VIP Members, here’s our scouting report …

Storylines

(1) Merrimack will debut its new road jerseys on Friday night at Bentley, retiring the jerseys that the program has used on the road since 2009.

(2) Friday’s game will be Merrimack’s first inside Bentley’s new on-campus arena, which opened last season.

(3) Merrimack is looking to bounce back after getting swept at the hands of Lake Superior State last weekend at Lawler Arena. Despite the two losses, Merrimack out-attempted LSSU 134-68 on the weekend.

(4) For Bentley, this will be the Falcons’ season opener.

Bentley’s Offense

Bentley’s offense is usually quite good, but the Falcons had a below-average season (for them), scoring just 2.59 goals per game last year. Over the years, the Falcons have always had a really good first line, but has lacked depth outside of that group when it comes to scoring goals.

Last year’s leading scorer, Kyle Schmidt, graduated, but the Falcons return Luke Santerno, who scored 30 points last season as a freshman. Tanner Jago is a top-quality offensive defenseman and he’s entering his senior season and the Falcons return two more players who had at least 20 points last season.

Bentley averaged slightly more than 28 shots per game last season, which again is about average (slightly above). When you factor in quality of competition in the AHA, 28 shots per game would probably be considered slightly below average.

Bentley’s power play was one of the best in Atlantic Hockey last season, converting on 22 percent of their chances and the Falcons had a shooting percentage of 17 percent on the power play, which is about 10 percent higher than what they shot at even strength.

Expect Bentley to play fast. Traditionally, they have looked to transition the puck quickly, and in the past have even flown a winger or two out of the zone in an attempt to stretch the ice as soon as the puck changes possession.

The Matchup: Bentley’s offense had better averages last season, but there’s also a big difference in quality of competition. For that reason, I think the offenses are about even in this game. I give Merrimack an edge, because I think their top-end players are more talented than Bentley’s, but neither team seems to have much scoring depth outside of 3-4 players.

Bentley’s Defense

Bentley’s defensive metrics last season were below average, at best. The Falcons surrendered more than three goals per game, and their team save percentage was only .902, which was below the national average (almost .910). Meanwhile, they allowed more than 30 shots per game.

Aside from Jago, Bentley’s defense is very young, even though they return the bulk of the players on the blue line from last season.

Aidan Pelino will likely get the start in goal for the Falcons. He took the job last season as a sophomore, beating out senior Jason Argue, but still posted a lackluster 3.04/.902 stat line.

On the penalty kill, the Falcons killed just 77.9 percent of their penalties, and if that conversation rate wasn’t evidence enough, the inside metrics show that the Falcons had a real tough time defending 5-on-4. Bentley posted a team save percentage of .917 at 5-on-5, and that dipped to .849 at 5-on-4. That’s an enormous drop.

The Matchup: Merrimack goaltender Craig Pantano is a better goalie than Pelino, and Merrimack’s best defenseman, Johnathan Kovacevic, is better than Bentley’s top defense in Jago (even though Jago is good). Merrimack is also deeper on the blue line, and I think the Warriors are more mobile. There is a clear advantage here for the Warriors.

Merrimack’s Last Lineup

Chase Gresock — Derek Petti — Sami Tavernier
Jordan Seyfert — Tyler Drevitch — Tyler Irvine
Logan Coomes — Patrick Kramer — Logan Drevitch
Christian Simeone — Michael Babcock — Cole McBride
Jackson Bales

Alex Carle — Johnathan Kovacevic
Ryan Cook — Simon Loof
Dominic Dockery — Matt McArdle

Craig Pantano

Bentley’s Last Lineup

Jake Kauppila — Luke Santerno — Kyle Schmidt
Matt Sieckhaus — Drew Callin — Ryner Gorowsky
Jonathan Desbiens — Brendan Hamblet — Andrew McDonald
Alexey Solovyev — Cody DePourcq — Michael Zuffant

Matthew Lombardozzi — Charlie Marchand
Brett Orr — Connor Brassard
Tanner Jago — Chris Buchanan

Aidan Pelino

The Final Word

Merrimack will be hitting the road for the first time this season, and historically the Warriors have struggled away from Lawler Arena. On top of that, this will be Bentley’s home opener and they’ve been drawing bigger crowds in their new on-campus rink. However, the team that gets off the bus with the better players usually wins the game, and I think Merrimack has the better players here. I’m predicting a road win for the Warriors, and Scott Borek gets on the board with the first win of his Warrior career.

About Mike McMahon

Mike McMahon is in his 13th year covering Merrimack College for The Eagle Tribune and is the founder and managing editor of The Mack Report. Mike also serves on staff as a senior writer at College Hockey News. Follow him on Twitter @MikeMcMahonCHN

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