Sacred Heart Takes on AIC in Atlantic Hockey Weekend Showdown

Full Game Notes (PDF)

Setting the Scene...The Pioneers take on the American International College Yellow Jackets in a home-and-home weekend series, with four points in the Atlantic Hockey standings on the line.  SHU goes for the regular season series win, having defeated AIC already this year on Nov. 6 at the Arena at Harbor Yard.

 Game Coverage...Video for Friday's game and audio for Saturday's game will be available at www.SacredHeartPioneers.com by following the video/audio links on the men's hockey schedule page. Jeff Holtz and Kyle Tyll have the call Friday through the America One Network, and Randy Brochu and Brendan Flynn have the call of Saturday's contest through Stretch Internet Game Central.

 About the Pioneers... Senior captain Patrick Knowlton leads the Pioneers with 15 points (5 g, 10 a) this season. Sophomore center Eric Delong (4-10-14), junior winger Matt Gingera (7-6-13), and senior forward David Berube (6-8-14) have been productive as well this season.  Gingera scored two goals with three assists against Air Force two weekends ago to take over the team lead in goals.
 
Scouting the Yellow Jackets...AIC seeks to snap an eight-game winless streak dating back to their 6-2 win against RIT at home on Dec. 4.  They are coming off a weekend sweep at Canisius, losing by scores of 6-4 and 8-3. The Yellow Jackets are led by Adam Pleskach (8-8-16), Tom Mele (7-5-12), and Michael Penny (6-6-12).

Last Time They Met ...The Pioneers defeated AIC 4-2 at the Arena at Harbor Yard on Nov. 6 for their first win of the season.  SHU came from behind for the win with a game-tying goal by Matt Gingera late in the second and the game-winning goal by Reid MacLeod 8:07 into the third, both coming on the power play.  Even Mladenoff and Eric Delong both contributed goals, and Steven Legatto made 27 saves for the win.

Last Time Out...The Pioneers lost their final non-conference game of the season, falling 7-1 at Princeton on Tuesday night.  David Berube scored his sixth goal of the season for SHU's lone tally.  The Tigers outshot the Pioneers 59-20 for the game.

Vs. the Ranked...On the season, Sacred Heart is now 0-5-1 against ranked opponents. The Pioneers opened the season with a weekend series at then #19 Union. SHU earned a 4-4 tie before losing game number two at Robert Morris. SHU lost to then #3 Yale, the highest ranked opponent in program history. Most recently, they fell to #19 Princeton 7-1.
 
Special Teams Struggles...The Pioneers have scored one power play goal in their last 16 opportunities, and are in 11th place overall in the AHA on the season at 12.7%. The penalty kill also has struggled, currently last in D-I college hockey at 68.4%.
 
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.
 
Playoffs?...Despite sitting in 11th place in the Atlantic Hockey Association standings, Sacred Heart stands just five points out of earning a first-round bye in the AHA playoffs. With Robert Morris and Niagara joining the conference this year, seeding in the first round of the playoffs is now broken up into eastern and western pods. Connecticut, Army, Holy Cross, Bentley, Sacred Heart, and AIC make up the east, while RIT, Niagara, Robert Morris, Air Force, Canisius, and Mercyhurst make up the west.  The top two seeds in each pod receive a first-round bye, after which the teams are reseeded based on overall point standings.  Sacred Heart's remaining ten games are all home-and-home weekend series against the five teams they are battling in the east, beginning with AIC this weekend.

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...Sacred Heart returns to action next weekend with a home-and-home series against Bentley.  The Pioneers travel to Watertown, MA Friday night for a 7:00 p.m. face off with the Falcons, before hosting them at the Arena at Harbor Yard Saturday at 3:30 p.m.