Mustangs Drop Home Opener

Photo courtesy of Ram Sports.
Photo courtesy of Ram Sports.

Auburn, ME – The Central Maine Community College Mustangs hockey team opened its home slate on Saturday night and despite a strong start would eventually to succumb to an offensive explosion from the visiting Bentley Falcons, 11-3. The Mustangs came out of the gate flying and looking to build on a 9-7 victory in their season opener a week prior. However the Falcons had other ideas, scoring four times in a 5:50 span in the second period to blow the doors off of a once competitive contest.

The game remained scoreless through the better part of the first period until Bentley's Scott Carvahlo broke through on Bentley's first power play of the evening. With Pat Pearson in the box for goaltender interference, the Falcons needed just 8 seconds of power play time to beat Mustangs keeper Jacob Strout and take a 1-0 advantage.

After Bentley stretched their lead to 2-0 just under two minutes later, the Mustangs would add their first of the evening to cut the deficit in half. Isaiah Dubois fired home a slapshot from the right point that seemingly had eyes, sneaking through Bentley starter Justin Fortini. The goal was Dubois' second in as many games.

The momentum lasted only 49 seconds, however, as Bentley immediately reclaimed a two goal advantage. Cam Bando walked out of the corner before depositing a wrist shot past Strout with 8:12 remaining in the period. Evan Beniek would add a power play goal of his own with 2:47 to play in the first, taking a Bando feed and untouched into the slot before slipping a wrist shot home to push the Bentley lead to 4-1.

"I wasn't really disappointed with our play in the first," said Central Maine head coach Matt Buotte. "We hit a couple of posts and were on the wrong end of a couple unfortunate penalty calls. The scoreboard looked bad, but I really felt we were right there."

The second period saw the teams trading chances throughout the first half of the period, with Strout making a few key saves to keep the Falcons at bay. With 8:58 to play in the period the Mustangs improved play was rewarded. Shawn Sullivan patiently held the blue line on a 5-on-4 power play, walking across the ice before finding freshman Carl Bear on the back post. Bear collected Sullivan's feed and immediately ripped it past Fortini to trim the deficit to 4-2.

"After Carl's goal I really thought we were going to start building a game," continued Buotte. "Every time we scored we gave the momentum right back. It's something we need to keep an eye on going forward."

The Mustangs good feelings would indeed be short-lived, as just 1:43 later the Falcons would strike again with Bando firing home his second of the evening. The Falcons offense would then erupt to end the second period, turning on the after burners and leaving the Mustangs behind. Nick Morgan would add his first of the night just over two minutes later, pushing the lead to 6-2. Anthony Tilelli would relieve Strout in the Mustangs net afterward in attempt to jolt the team back to life. Strout stopped 18 of 24 in his season debut.

"We let [Strout] down tonight," said Buotte. "Plain and simple. He made a few saves to keep us in it but we just didn't do a good enough job of getting pucks out and letting him see shots. He's a great goaltender and he's going to bounce back for us."

Trevor Roche continued his solid play for the Mustangs, scoring his 2nd of the season with 2:02 to play in the second period to cut the lead to 6-3. Drake Goupil and Sullivan added assists on the play.

Again, the good feeling was fleeting for the Mustangs. Just 27 seconds later the score was 7-3 and 1:10 later the game was all but over, as Danny Higgins added his first of the night for the Falcons to push their advantage to 8-3.

"Every time we scored we just couldn't keep that momentum going," said Buotte. "It's extremely deflating to work so hard, claw a goal back, and just give it right away."

The Falcons did all the scoring in the third period, adding three more tallies to finish 11-3 victors. Danny Sheehan relieved Fortini in the Bentley cage, stopping the only third period shot he faced as the hosts were outshot 15-1 in the final frame. Tilelli stopped 14 of 19 in relief of Strout.

"We have a good team here," concluded Buotte afterward. "We have a lot of work to do. I have full faith in these guys to rebound next week. We have a couple of exciting home games coming up and we really want to build some momentum."

Bentley went 3-for-5 on the power play, while Central Maine finished at 1-for-4. Bentley held a 39-15 shots advantage. The Mustangs (1-1-0) are next in action on Saturday, October 13th as they host St. Joseph's at Norway Savings Bank Arena. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.

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