Setting the Scene…The Pioneers host the Robert Morris Colonial in two AHA games this weekend.
Game Coverage...Video and audio of tonight's game will be available at www.SacredHeartPioneers.com by following the video links on the men's hockey schedule page. Randy Brochu calls the play-by-play.
About the Pioneers…Senior Matt Gingera leads SHU with seven goals and 11 points, followed by freshman Brian Sheehan with five goals and five assists. Gingera is also third in the AHA in goals scored. Juniors Eric Delong (4-5-9) and Ben Ketchum (5-3-8) have also contributed offensively. Steven Legatto has seen the majority of time in net this year, making the fifth most saves in the AHA (321).
About the Colonials… RMU is led by Colin South (2-5-7), Nick Chiavetta (3-4-7), and Trevor Lewis (3-4-7), all of whom have seven points. The Colonials went 3-1-1 in November, including a 3-3 tie with Army their last time out. They also have beaten Quinnipiac 5-4 earlier this season. RMU boasts the best penalty kill in the AHA (94.2%).
Gingera On Fire…Pioneer assistant captain Matt Gingera was named Team USA AHA Player of the Week on 11/28/11 for his performance in SHU's 1-1-1 week. He scored the first of SHU's seven goals in the upset win over Yale last Tuesday. After scoring and assisting in a 3-2 loss to Niagara on Saturday, Gingera scored twice in the third period of a 4-4 tie with Niagara the next day, helping lead SHU back from a 4-1 deficit. His four-goal week give him 51 for his career, putting him four back of 5th place (Garrett Larson-55) and five back of 3rd place (Bear Trapp-56) on the all-time SHU hockey.
Take it to the Bank... For the second straight season, the Pioneers will call Webster Bank Arena home for several regular season games. SHU is 4-1-2 in their last two seasons of games at WBA, including an upset 7-6 win over #8 Yale this year. After playing five home contests at the 8,500-seat home of the AHL's Bridgeport Sound Tigers, SHU will play eight home games at Webster Bank Arena this season. SHU will play those home games in partnership with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, with the Pioneers' games either following or preceding a Sound Tigers home game as part of a single-admission ticket. SHU faces off later this season at 12:00 pm against RIT on January 15, at 4:00 pm on December 3 against Robert Morris, January 14 against RIT, February 4 against Bentley, February 11 against UCONN, and February 18 against Holy Cross. Webster Bank Arena is also the site of the NCAA Men's Hockey East Regional for the third time this season.
All Time vs. Robert Morris...SHU is in search of its first ever win against Robert Morris, skating to a 4-4 tie and a 5-1 loss last 11/12-13/10. The Colonials beat the Pioneers 4-2 on 11/27/04 in the only ever meeting between the two programs. Last year's games marked the first conference games between the two schools, as RMU joined the AHA last season along with Niagara after their previous conference, the CHA, folded.
Pioneers Upset of #8 Yale 7-6…The Pioneers pulled off their greatest ever upset, beating # 8 Yale 7-6 Tuesday night, 11/22/11 at Webster Bank Arena. It is the first time in school history SHU beat a ranked opponent, and also is the team's first win of the year. Chad Filteau lead SHU with two goals, including the game-winner with 4:14 left in the third period. Steven Legatto made 48 saves in net for the win.
Doubling Up...Five times this season, a Pioneer has scored twice in the same game. They are: Brian Sheehan, 10/25 at Bentley and 10/28 at AIC; Chad Filteau,11/22 vs. Yale; Matt Gingera and Ben Ketchum, 11/26 vs. Niagara. No Pioneer has registered a hat trick this year, the last one coming from Gingera who scored three in a come-from-behind 6-3 win at Bentley in last season's AHA First Round Playoff game on 3/5/11.
And the Leaders are...Eric Delong, captain, and Matt Gingera and Chris Bailer, assistant captains. Delong played every game last season, has already racked up 65 points (24 G, 41 A), and continues to be one of the team's strongest defensive forwards. Gingera enjoyed a break-out junior season thanks to a strong finish, scoring nine goals in the final six games, including a third-period hat trick in SHU's win over Bentley in the First Round of the AHA Tournament. Bailer, a stay-at-home defenseman, is a shot-blocking specialist who commands the respect of his teammates with his willingness to sacrifice his body.
Ketchum Contributing...Ben Ketchum has scored four goals with an assist in his last four games.
Returning Forwards...The Pioneers return seven forwards who registered double-digit points. Junior Ben Ketchum (6-12-18), a fast-skating right wing with a hard shot, picked up his point total down the stretch in his first season with SHU after transferring from Quinnipiac. Junior right wing Kyle Verbeek (6-6-12), the son of former NHL great Pat Verbeek, displayed a knack for going to the net for rebound goals. Sophomore right wing Torin Snydeman played his way onto the top line with Delong and Gingera with a strong finish (6 points in final 4 games). Senior center Anthony Yelovich (4-7-11) looks for a breakout season after three years of playing various roles. Sophomore center Chad Filteau (3-8-11) looks to keep developing his play-making ability in the middle.
Bruisin' on the Blue Line...The Pioneers have added depth on the blue line with the addition of two transfers and the return of a medical red shirt. Jordan Ciccarello joins SHU for his sophomore year after sitting out last season following his transfer from Clarkson. Will Rayner restarts his freshman year after transferring from UMASS-Lowell with a reputation of being a good open-ice hitter. After going down with an injury three games into last year, 6-5, 225-pounder Bryan Felice returns as a medical red shirt freshman. Freshman Jared Eng joins the defense core from Coquitlam of the BCHL, where he tallied 23 assists. They join return seniors Chris Bailer and Ryan Miniaci, juniors Alex Stuart and Mitchell Stretch, and sophomore Neil Fachini.
In Net...Junior Steven Legatto and freshman Andrew Bodnarchuk are expected to see the majority of time in net. Legatto set the single-season school record with 19 wins in'08-'09 and played every minute of SHU's school record 12-game unbeaten streak that year. Bodnarchuk was the MVP of the SJHL with a 2.82 GAA and .916 save percentage for the Humboldt Broncos two seasons ago.
Exhibition vs. Ryerson...SHU beat Ryerson 5-4 Oct. 2 at the Milford Ice Pavilion in the team's lone preseason exhibition. The Pioneers and Rams racked up 68 combined minutes of penalties in a physical game. SHU received goals from Eric Delong, Matt Gingera, Tye Lewis, Alex Stuart. Steven Legatto made 21 saves through the first two periods, but Andrew Bodnarchuk earned the win with 10 saves in the third period.
Up Next...Sacred Heart renews an old MAAC and AHA rivalry, when they take on the Quinnipiac Bobcats Friday, 12/9 at the TD Banknorth Sports Center at 7:00 pm. SHU also travels to Dartmouth next Sunday, 12/11 for a 4 :00 pm faceoff.