So what is different this year?
Obviously, we cannot overstate what this building means for the program, the school and the community. For all those who have not yet been, I implore you to find time this season to watch a game at the new home of Bentley Hockey. Everything about the barn is first class. Externally, it looks majestic glowing in the night as you walk up pregame. You can hear the buzz from outside as you approach the main entrance. The feeling when you turn the corner up for the first time and see the beautiful arena spread out before you is unforgettable. The atmosphere should continue to be electric and there is not a bad seat in the house.
This is all fun and good for us fans, but this makes perhaps an even bigger difference for players. Members of the Top Shelf were lucky enough to get a tour of the barn before it opened. The marvels us fans get to enjoy are dwarfed by the amenities players get to utilize. The locker room is radiant and modern. The players’ lounge is heaven for a college athlete and the varsity hockey weight room is perfect. Bentley Arena is not just a place for hockey, players are spending more time here than they are in their dorms! Additionally, Coach Soderquist’s office is a lounge appropriate for selling recruits on the educational and athletic experience Bentley has to offer… which brings us to another difference this year.
Jakov Novak and the 2018 recruiting class.
For those who don’t know, Bentley officially has an NHL prospect. Novak was drafted in the 7th round to the Senators. Folks, the arena is already paying dividends. For years Bentley has had several fantastic selling points to potential recruits. A first class education, beautiful campus and proximity to Boston! The JAR however was an anchor that was always going to prevent top recruits from coming to Bentley. All that changes now. Bentley still has all the aforementioned selling points, but they now also offer an arena that is as nice as anything D-1 hockey offers and is *admits bias* tops in the conference. Bentley Arena removes the recruiting anchor that held back Soder for so many years. This class is evidence of that. Hopefully, it not only removes the anchor, but opens the floodgates.
Bentley did a nice write up that goes into detail on the new faces for the 2018-2019 Falcons.
Drew Best (F, Univ. of Vermont): Best is a graduate transfer from UVM who will be eligible this season. Prior to heading to Vermont, he played two seasons in the USHL with both Green Bay and Omaha, where he notched a combined scoring line of 14-33-47. Best also played a season with Surrey in the BCHL, where he was among the team's leading scorers with a 16-30-46 line and helped the team win the RBC Cup as the Canadian Junior national champions. He is from Plymouth, Michigan.
Will Garin (F, Brooks Bandits, AJHL): Helped lead Brooks to the 2017-18 AJHL playoffs with 15 goals and 17 assists in just 32 games. Continued to be productive in the postseason as he led the Bandits in scoring with six goals and six assists as the team made the conference finals. Prior to joining the Bandits, Garin spent the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons in the USHL. He is from Mound, Minnesota.
Sam Kauppila (F, St, Lawrence University): Kauppila transferred to Bentley after his freshman year at St. Lawrence in 2016-17, and will be eligible this season. He played his junior hockey in the USHL with both Green Bay and Lincoln, where he suited up in over 100 games over two seasons with those clubs. Sam is the younger brother of current Falcon Jake Kauppila and is from Gurnee, Illinois.
Fraser Kirk (G, Newmarket Hurricanes, OJHL): Kirk was voted the OJHL's 2017-18 Goalie of the Year and was a finalist for the Canadian Junior National Goalie of the Year award. He posted the league's second best goals against average (1.86) and second most wins (27). His play was just as strong in the postseason with a 1.84 GAA and .937 save percentage in 13 games to lead the league. That was his first full season for the Hurricanes after he joined them midway through the 2016-17 season. Kirk is from Burlington, Ontario.
Jakov Novak (F, Janesville Jets, NAHL): Novak had a monster 2017-18 for Janesville that saw him named the NAHL's Most Valuable Player and the Forward of the Year. The Riverside, Ontario native was also named first team All-NAHL, and both the Midwest Division's MVP and Forward of the Year. Novak led all NAHL players during the regular season in points (73), goals (32) and plus/minus (+41), while leading the Jets to the divisional playoffs where he tallied a further 4 goals and 6 assists to bring his season totals to 36-47-83. Novak was listed in the NHL Central Scouting's Final Draft Rankings for the 2018 NHL Draft.
Luke Orysiuk (D, Janesville Jets, NAHL): Orysiuk was one of just two defensemen in the NAHL last season to earn first team All-NAHL honors after he racked up 13 goals and 26 points in 60 regular season games, in addition to being a +28. Fairbanks' team captain, he was also named the league's Midwest Division Defenseman of the Year and All-Midwest Division, while leading the Ice Dogs to a league high 45 regular season wins. Orysiuk is from Edmonton, Alberta.
Dylan Pitera (F, Culver Academy, Prep): Pitera led Culver to one of the best seasons in school history as they ended the year as the No. 1 ranked prep team by USA Hockey with a 43-4-1 record. He was the team's leading scorer with 44 goals and 33 assists for 77 points. The 44 goals broke the school's single-season record. He is from Culver, Indiana.
Ethan Roswell (D, Junior Bruins, NCDC): Played one season for the Junior Bruins in the NCDC and was team captain. Helped lead the squad to the league playoffs and totaled 6 goals and 14 assists combined in the regular and postseason. Played prep hockey at Cushing Academy. Roswell is from Paradise Valley, Arizona.
Will Schlagenhauf (F, Muskegon Lumberjacks, USHL): Played most of last season with Muskegon in the USHL where he had 10 points in 31 games. Began the season with Topeka in the NAHL, and had nine goals and 16 assists in 27 games before he made the jump to Muskegon. Also played for Topeka in 2016-17 and had an impressive year with 9 goals and 22 points as the team's 4th leading scorer. He is from Carmel, Indiana.
Brendan Walkom (F, Madison Capitals, USHL): Walkom suited up in 53 games for Madison in the USHL last season with four goals and 14 assists and played a pivotal role in all situations for the Capitals. The previous season he played for Amarillo in the NAHL and was the team's 3rd leading scorer with 20 goals and 14 assists for 34 in 58 games. He is from Moon Township, Pennsylvania.
Obviously Novak is the exciting story here, becoming the first Bentley Falcon to be drafted into the NHL! But there is some real talent aside from him on this list. Including Jake Kauppila's brother, Sam and Drew Best from UVM. Goalie Frasier Kirk is someone to really keep an eye on and could challenge Pelino for starts right from the get go. Two additional prospects from the USHL (something usually above our recruiting level *cough cough removal of recruiting anchor cough cough*) show that Bentley is for real. All in all a great recruiting class, maybe Bentley's best ever. This is just year one after the new rink was built, and most of these guys committed when Bentley Arena was just a blueprint. This class gives us fans a lot to get excited about for the next four years, and a tantalizing glimpse into the full potential of future recruiting classes.