BRIDEGPORT, Conn. – Once again the Sacred Heart University men's ice hockey team could not hold on to a lead in the third period as it drew even with the visiting Holy Cross Crusaders, 3-3, at the Arena at Harbor Yard, Sunday afternoon. Heading into the final weekend of the season, the Pioneers record stands at 4-22-6 overall and 4-15-6, while the Crusaders are 14-14-4 and 13-8-4.
Five of SHU's six ties have come on instances where the Pioneers led in the third period. This time their third period lead lasted only 45 seconds until HC senior Everett Sheen tallied his second score to knot the game at three.
Despite a lack of scoring over the last 24:15 of hockey, neither side was lacking in opportunities to break the tie. With one minute left in regulation, Holy Cross junior Andrew Cox took a shot from point blank, but was denied by SHU sophomore netminder Steven Legatto (Kelowna, B.C.).
With 25 seconds to play in the third, freshman Torin Snydeman (Groton, Mass.) snuck in for the Pioneers and put a shot on goal. Crusaders senior goalie Andrew Roy was well out of his net when the rebound came to junior Matt Gingera (Winnipeg, Man.), but his backhander sailed wide of the open net. In the final 10 seconds, Holy Cross junior defenseman Matt Clune rifled a shot at Legatto and sophomore Brandon Nunn picked up the rebound and sent it wide, through the goal mouth.
The Crusaders gave it one last effort when sophomore Rob Linsmayer poked a shot from close range, but Legatto sprawled out in the crease to end the game in a tie.
Early in the first, Sacred Heart failed to convert on a five-minute major being served by Holy Cross senior J.P. Martignetti for cross-checking, but were able to break through twice in the opening frame. At the 12:57 mark, junior forward Anthony Yelovich (Little Falls, N.J.) slipped a pass from behind the net to senior Evan Mladenoff (Leawood, Kan.) who flicked the puck in for his ninth score of the season.
Later in the period, SHU was knocking on the door during a power play opportunity, but could not punch one in until Clune returned from the penalty box. Only five second after the power play ended, Gingera received a pass from sophomore Eric Delong (Oakville, Man.) and knocked in his 13th goal of the season to put the Pioneers up 2-0 heading into the intermission.
Nine minutes into the second, senior defenseman Mark Znutas put the Crusaders on the board with his fifth goal of the season. SHU put its lead back to two when Gingera picked up a rebound off a shot by Yelovich and lit the lamp for the second time. Holy Cross took advantage of a five on three late in the third with a goal from Sheen off two quick passes down low from freshmen Shayne Stockton and Jeffrey Reppucci. The goal came just 12 seconds into the two-man advantage after SHU took a penalty for too many men on the ice.
Holy Cross outshot Sacred Heart 40-31 for the game and 17-11 in the third period. Legatto totaled 37 saves, including 16 in the third period, a number of which came two or three at a time. For the Crusaders, Roy stopped 28 shots throughout the game and 11 in the third.
The Pioneers look to close the 2010-'11 regular season with a home-and-home series against Army next weekend. Game one is Friday at 7:05 pm in West Point, N.Y., followed by "Senior Day" at the Arena at 3:30 pm on Saturday.