January 19, 2011

Sacred Heart Travels to Niagara for Two Games Against Second-Place Purple Eagles

Complete Game Notes (pdf)

Setting the Scene...The Pioneers travel to Niagara for their first in-conference games with the Purple Eagles, who joined the Atlantic Hockey Association this season. SHU is 0-4 all time against Niagara in non-conference play.  Niagara is currently tied for second place in the AHA.  The Pioneers most recently took three points at home against Air Force two weekends ago.

Game Coverage...Video and audio for this weekend's games will be available at www.SacredHeartPioneers.com by following the video and/or links on the men's hockey schedule page. Randy Brochu and Brendan Flynn have the call through the America One Network.

About the Pioneers... Senior captain Patrick Knowlton leads the Pioneers with 15 points (5 g, 9 a) this season. Sophomore center Eric Delong (4-9-13), junior winger Matt Gingera (7-5-13), and senior forward David Berube (5-8-13) have been productive as well this season.  Gingera scored two goals with three assists against Air Force to take over the team lead in goals.
 
Scouting the Purple Eagles...Niagara joined the AHA this year, and immediately boasts the second-best offense (3.55 gpg) in the conference.  Paul Zanette and Bryan Haczyk are tied for the conference lead in goals and second in points with identical lines of 18-13-31.  Haczyk has won two consecutive AHA Player of the Week awards and leads the AHA with seven power-play goals. Giancarlo Iuorio (7-16-23) is tied for fourth in assists and is third in power-play points (4-17-11).  Niagara has won four of five coming in, beginning with a 4-3 OT win against Colgate.  They have also beaten Northeastern and tied Merrimack and UMass-Lowell this season.
 
Last Time They Met ...Sacred Heart lost to Niagara two seasons ago 4-2 at the MIP on 1/3/08.  Matt Gingera and Eric Giosa scored for SHU, and Olivier St. Onge made 33 saves in net. Paul Zanette and Bryan Haczyk both scored third period goals for the Purple Eagles, who scored three unanswered goals in the come-from-behind win.

Last Time Out...David Berube scored twice, and Torin Snydeman and Matt Gingera added goals in SHU's 4-2 win over Air Force Saturday, 1/8/11 at the Arena at Harbor Yard.  Steven Legatto made 30 saves, including stopping all 13 third period Air Force shots to preserve the lead.  Gingera's power-play goal halfway through the second stood up as the game winner.

Special Teams Struggles...After struggling through much of the year on the power play, Sacred Heart saw recent improvement on its man advantage by going 3-7 last week. However, they still are in 11th place overall in the AHA on the season at 14.1% on the power play. The penalty kill also has struggled, currently last in D-I college hockey at 68.7%.
 
Late Leads Prove Slippery... Sacred Heart has had trouble holding on to a lead. In each of their five ties, the Pioneers have held the lead at one time or another. Against Robert Morris, Army,  RIT, and Air Force, SHU has held a lead in the third period. Most recently, Sacred Heart lost the lead against Air Force with less than one second left in the third.  Against the Black Knights they held a one-goal edge with seven plus minutes to go and went into the third period with a two-goal lead on the Colonials.

Pioneers at Harbor Yard... At a press conference at the Arena at Harbor Yard on November 3 the partnership between Sacred Heart and the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, the AHL affiliate of the New York Islanders, was officially announced.  The two organizations have teamed up to play five doubleheaders at the Arena at Harbor Yard in Bridgeport throughout the season. The Pioneers will also play games in Bridgeport on January 8 vs. Air Force, February 5 vs. Bentley, and February 20 vs. Holy Cross. The team's senior day will also be held at the arena on February 26 against Army.

Up Next...The Pioneers are back in action in two weeks when they travel to Hobey Baker Rink and take on Princeton Tuesday, January 25 at 7 pm.