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JAR Ranked As Worst D1 Arena

The John A. Ryan Arena is the worst Division I hockey venue, per a study by the website Stadium Journey. It ranks 57th out of the surveyed arenas, with only RIT and Nebraska-Omaha excluded due to a lack of review by the site.

The criteria of the review based itself on food and beverage in the arena, along with overall atmosphere, neighboring community, fans, and access. It ultimately led to a return on investment and a category of any extras offered. Stadium Journey is a website dedicated to rating the experience of watching sports at the professional and collegiate level. It contains reviews of Major League Baseball, the NBA, NHL, NFL, and NCAA football, basketball, and hockey venues. It also rates arenas used in by minor league baseball, minor league hockey, junior hockey, NASCAR, and others.

In its review of the JAR, the site gave two stars overall. While praising its cheapness, access, and return on investment, the arena fell well short in atmosphere and extras. It criticized the disorganization of the students and overall quiet atmosphere. It also commented that the JAR is “as bare bones as it gets.”

Atlantic Hockey venues occupied the bottom seven slots in the rankings, with UConn counted as an AHA venue due to it not yet being a member of Hockey East (the association starts next week). The highest rated AHA program was Army with Tate Rink holding the 23rd slot. The highest-ranked western pod school was Niagara at #35.

Cadet Ice Arena and Air Force ranked 39th, with 84 Lumber Arena for the AHA Champion Robert Morris Colonials ranking 46th. Mercyhurst ranked 51st, followed by Holy Cross at 52nd, AIC at 53rd, UConn at 54th, Sacred Heart’s Milford Ice Pavilion 55th, and Canisius’s Buffalo State Sports Arena 56th. Sacred Heart occasionally splits time with Webster Bank Arena in Brigeport, while Canisius is moving to downtown Buffalo next year. RIT was not rated, although Ritter Arena is considered among the best arenas in the AHA and New York. The Tigers are moving to the Polisseni Center next year.

JAR Receiving Offseason Renovations

The John A. Ryan Arena will receive a new roof and a new Low-E ceiling as part of its spring and summer closures, per the Town of Watertown’s official website for the rink.

The new roof had been rumored as to be in the works over the past few years. In the 2014-2018 Capital Improvement Plan released by the city, Watertown appropriated over $800K for improvements to the arena for the fiscal year of 2014, including a new metal roof. This was an increase from the ~$700K invested in Arena Improvements for the FY2013. That number is expected to drop to $100K next year before zeroing out through FY2018.

Last year, the JAR received infrastructure updates, including a new heating system. The town added new safety nets around the stands to protect errant flying pucks from danger, but they fumbled it by adding all black nets that instead partially obstructed or impeded the view of the ice. The nets were also bunched in several areas. The new heating system helped improve the sitting areas near the foyer and throughout the bleacher section. Bentley also provided replay capabilities with cameras attached to the ceiling.

The new roof and ceiling will replace the torn fabric and leaky roof currently in place at the JAR. Over the past several years, the ceiling’s fallen into massive disrepair. Through a rough winter, melting snow often became a factor both on the ice and in the stands, and pools of water could be seen throughout various areas of the bleacher sections. An errant puck more often than not never came back from the ceiling, and if it did, it was accompanied by gallons of trapped water from the sagging fabric.

By adding a Low-E, or low-emissivity, ceiling, the temperature in the JAR will stand to be more regulated. The Low-E ceiling holds lower potential for radiant heat transfer from higher objects to lower objects, which means heat at the top of the arena will not transfer as easily to the ice surface. This will help lower the possibility of slushy ice and foggy boards, problems that plagued the JAR at the beginning of the hockey season (which fell after an unseasonably warm autumn). It will also help prevent the ridiculously fast and slick ice surface that came during the unseasonably cold winter. A more regulated ice surface will allow for smoother and consistent hockey throughout the season.

Likewise, a Low-E ceiling is highly reflective onto the ice surface, lowering the need for light fixtures and creating a better contrast between a darker ceiling and brighter ice surface. This will lower lighting costs make the rink more efficient.

While the JAR has fallen into extreme disrepair and consistently ranked as one of the worst rinks in Division I, this will hopefully help placate some of the argument as Bentley continues to work towards an on campus facility.

One Year Later, A Uniqueness And Memory

“Tomorrow, the sun will rise over the city of Boston.” -Barack Obama

Nearly one year ago, the very fabric of our being forever changed. The city of Boston rose on Patriots Day, 2013 to the same sense it always did – a celebration of a holiday commemorating the Battles of Lexington and Concord that began the American Revolution. It rose, as it always did, for a Boston Red Sox game starting at 11 AM. And it rose, as it always did, for the running of the Boston Marathon.

There was no way to realize the gravity of what would happen that day in the city. By now, everyone knows the narrative of the unspeakable acts of terror, the two bombs exploding by the finish line in Copley Square. In the spirit of the holiday, though, Boston began to act almost immediately following the bombings. Whether it was acting to serve those wounded, protect those in danger, or hunt down those responsible, Bostonians followed through on one of their core axioms to lead by example and never, ever give up until the job was done.

The week that followed gave us all glimpses into all sides of humanity. Under the watchful eye of the Massachusetts State Police, one of the two suspected bombers was apprehended with the assumption and anticipation of being brought to justice while the other met an early demise. This all happened in our backyard, in the town of Watertown, just miles outside the Boston city limits.

That this all took place in Watertown created a uniqueness to the situation for those of us associated with the Bentley community. The Bentley campus stands less than a 20 minute drive from the area where the manhunt took place. The JAR is even closer, standing within the Watertown borders. It brought it closer to home more than ever, evidenced by two tweets from the Falcons’ Brett Gensler.

On that day, Bentley’s campus completely shut down, as did pretty much all of eastern Massachusetts. Locked down on campus, the students were resigned to getting whatever was offered from either the dorms or the residential cafe, essentially a staple hamburger and a few fries. The school provided updates where it had to, filtered the information it needed to, and at the end, praised the students for their action (or inaction, which is essentially what they were forced into doing) and patience throughout the process.

For me, it’s hard to realize how much one year can affect someone’s core. Born and raised in Boston, the Marathon and Patriots Day are as much a part of my fabric as anything else. I’ve been to that 11 AM Red Sox game more times than I can count, and the walk from Fenway to Copley Square, on a gorgeous day, is one of the most anticipated and beautiful things I’d ever experienced. Seeing the people in the distance, knowing I was about to join the city’s largest cocktail party and rock concert, watching people I knew and other ordinary citizens run for a cause, for the hell of it, or for personal gain – it’s something you can’t understand until you experience it. And even then, you don’t fully get it unless you grew up here and understand what that holiday means.

It’s hard to fathom that, up until about 10 AM on that very Monday, I’d been trying to get into the city for the game with my girlfriend (now fiance). I had asked her to take the day off from work since my full-time employer sits on the Marathon route, closed on Patriots Day, and hers does not. I’d been pushing for it so we could watch the Marathon together at the finish line. That’s something I still have trouble comprehending, to know that we could’ve been in the vicinity of the bombs, or worse, instead of her at work and me driving home from a golf course.

It’s harder for me to fathom that the suspect in custody was a student at UMass-Dartmouth, my alma mater. It’s harder to fathom that he allegedly committed the act, then went back to school and partied in places I called home for four years as if nothing happened. To turn on the news that week and see Black Hawk helicopters landing in the middle of my campus was completely unbelievable.

And in the end, I, too, was a resident affected by the shelter in place and essential lockdown. I sat in my Waltham apartment, with helicopters overhead, sirens through the streets, unable to move. I sat and watched the news because there was nothing else to do, slightly intoxicated when I thought the manhunt would come down my street, around the corner from Bentley, less than five miles from where I slept.

What do these details now matter? They matter because we remember. We remember this year that it’s been one year since the worst of mankind came out. But we remember that through it all, we persevered. Even if we weren’t first responders, even if we weren’t police officers, and even if we weren’t at the finish line or in Watertown, we persevered. We left an indelible mark on the rest of the world that we would do whatever it took to bring justice to those that needed it. We left an indelible mark that we could steel our reserve, grit our teeth, and wait it out. We showed that, when called upon, we could do it with unthinkable fear in our backyard, in our lives. We were all shaken that week, and now, one year later, we can look back proud of the happy ending, even if our lives are never the same.

April 15th is a day that will forever live in infamy to those of us who were in the Boston area. Our lives were forever shaken, our resolve tested, and our emotions ripped apart. The images will never go away. But in our Bentley uniqueness or in our own memories will persevere the thought of a victory that can never be won in an arena. It’s always going to be there, but we’re always tougher for it. And, no matter what, we will always, forever, be #BostonStrong.

Summer Vacation Is Almost Here

If you couldn’t tell from the last couple of weeks, our content grew really thin really fast. That’s because we really weren’t ready for the end of the season, and there isn’t a whole lot you can say when the team you cover is eliminated before the perceived time they “were supposed to be.”

But with the exception of breaking news, the hockey season came to a close. As the calendar turns to April, our coverage will thin out a little bit over the next few months. There will be some opinion pieces to pick up, a couple of thoughts, and overall a much more light-hearted approach. This is the annual time of the year when sites like this, that specialize on single season coverage, can sit back and relax for a little bit.

As news comes up, I’ll try to keep everyone posted, but in the meantime, stay tuned to Twitter and Facebook. We’ll reconvene after the end of the school year when the schedules are getting set to be released. At that point, it’ll be onward to analysis of the new year, the new team, the new recruits, and the new roster. 2014-2015 is only a few short months away, and with it will come the new day of Bentley hockey!

Chris Buchanan Commits to Bentley

Fargo Force defenseman and San Jose, California native Chris Buchanan committed to play at Bentley, per a tweet from Judd Bracket.

Buchanan, a 1994 recruit, is in his second season with Fargo. In 36 games, he has three goals, five assists, and over 80 penalty minutes. He has three fighting majors this season, per

At 6’1″, Buchanan can provide size along the Falcon blue line. Bentley is losing the services of 6’6″ Zach Marginsky and 6’2″ Zach Ledford to graduation. Additionally, the 200-pounder will provide some much needed muscle along the smaller, fleet-footed defensive unit.

Buchanan is the second member of the Fargo Force to commit this offseason. Tanner Jago previously committed for the 2015-2016 season. He is also the fourth player from the highly-touted USHL to commit to Bentley, joining Jago, Ryan McMurphy, and Kyle Schmidt.

Congratulations to Chris on his commitment, and welcome to Bentley!

Gensler Signs with ECHL’s Stingrays

Former Bentley University forward Brett Gensler signed a contract with the ECHL’s South Carolina Stingrays, per a release from the ECHL website. The Stingrays at the ECHL affiliate of the AHL’s Providence Bruins, themselves an affiliate of the Boston Bruins.

Gensler finished up a record-breaking career with Bentley last week after the Falcons postseason aspirations came to a close against Canisius. He finished his career with 167 points, breaking the Atlantic Hockey Association’s career points record in 145 games. His 73 goals and 94 assists both broke Bentley program records, along with the points, and he recorded the only two 50-point seasons for the Falcons at the Division I level.

This past season, Gensler broke that single season record for points in a Division I year when he won the league’s scoring title for the second time. After scoring 50 in his sophomore year of 2011-2012, Gensler scored 53 this past season. He was part of the greatest Bentley offense ever assembled, a unit that scored 127 goals en route to tying the program record with 19 wins.

Gensler also won the 2012 Walter Brown Award and was named a semifinalist for the Hobey Baker Award each of the last two seasons.

The ECHL is considered the “Double A” level of hockey, and over 500 former alumni from the league reached the NHL ranks. Most recently, Canisius’ Cory Conacher reached the NHL level with the Tampa Bay Lightning, playing in the postseason last year with the Ottawa Senators before moving to the Buffalo Sabres this year. Other alumni include Byron Dafoe, Paul Bissonette, Patrick Wey, Philip Samuellsson, and Martin Biron.

The South Carolina Stingrays are affiliated with the Providence Bruins and play at the North Charleston Coliseum in Charleston, SC. 26 of the 30 NHL teams have an affiliate within the league. Players within the ECHL can be signed to either an ECHL contract or an AHL contract. Two-way AHL contracts may be assigned to the ECHL much in the same way players with two-way NHL contracts can be assigned to the AHL within the hockey hierarchy. The league is one of only two recognized minor leagues within the NHL’s collective bargaining agreement, the other being the AHL. The Central Hockey League (CHL) is also a mid-level minor league professional league on par with the ECHL.

Gensler is the sixth recent Falcon to appear on an ECHL roster. Brett Hartung, who graduated last year, appeared in nine games for the Orlando Solar Bears last season, and Dustin Cloutier, class of 2011, is currently playing with the Kalamazoo Wings. Prior to them, Dain Prewitt, a graduate in ’09 and the player Gensler surpassed for the all-time points record, played 62 games for the Stingrays in 2009-2010, scoring 11 goals and nine assists. Former goalie Kyle Rank signed with Greenville of the ECHL but never appeared in a game for them this year, and former forward Jordy Trottier signed with the Wheeling Nailers.

Several other Falcons appeared in the CHL. No Bentley Falcon, though, advanced beyond this level in North American hockey to the AHL. Preece, Cloutier, and Dan Koudys all appeared in top flight international leagues.

Gensler will wear #17 for the Stingrays, as per the league’s release. The Stingrays are currently leading the South Division of the ECHL with 81 points, including 38 wins. They defeated Orlando last night and will take on the Solar Bears again tonight at home at 7:05.

Congratulations to Brett Gensler, and thank you for four amazing seasons!

Joy And No Joy In Mudville

Sometimes there are no quotes to summarize a situation or to present a lesson learned anywhere.

The Canisius Golden Griffins eliminated the Bentley Falcons this past weekend in a two-games-to-one series victory in Watertown. With it, Canisius went to Rochester to play in the AHA semifinals, and the Falcons were eliminated.

These are the facts, indisputable and cold. We cannot change the past, cannot look back and wonder what might have been, and since it happened in the playoffs, we cannot look at the series and find something to change. There is no more tomorrow for the 2013-2014 Bentley hockey season, no more practice, no more time spent to complain about and figure out how this team can manipulate and adjust to win a conference championship.

Anyone talking about the Falcons will be correct to say they will not win the Atlantic Hockey Association. They will not bring a banner to the JAR to start next year, and there are no more practices from which to ply a trade with the hopes of continuing a magical run.

So you’ll be correct if you talk about how the “Mighty Casey” Falcons struck out, how they are not going to Rochester this weekend, and how they did not win a title.

But the eternal pessimist would be remiss if that’s the only fact he or she focused on. Yes, there are indisputable facts about this year’s Falcons team. But where the program was in ashes after a dismal 2012-2013 season, Bentley rose like a phoenix to set a new standard. And while the ultimate goal was left unattained, there is still plenty from which to remind us that this season gets measured in more than just the wins and losses.

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