Setting the Scene…The Pioneers take on the Quinnipiac Bobcats and the Dartmouth Big Green, both of the ECAC, in two non-conference games to close out the semester.
Game Coverage...Audio of this weekend's games will be available at www.SacredHeartPioneers.com by following the audio links on the men's hockey schedule page. Randy Brochu calls the play-by-play and Kyle Tyll is on the color.
About the Pioneers…Senior Matt Gingera leads SHU and is third in the AHA with eight goals. He and senior captain Eric Delong are tied for both the team lead and fifth in the AHA with 13 points. Freshman Brian Sheehan has five goals and seven assists, while Ben Ketchum has six goals and 10 points. Steven Legatto has seen the majority of time in net this year, making the fifth most saves in the AHA (371).
About the Bobcats…Jeremy Langlois the team with 10 goals, third in the ECAC, and is tied with Connor Jones for a team-best 17 points. Kellen Jones is third on QU and ninth in the ECAC with 14 points.
About the Big Green…Eric Robinson and Tyler Sikura lead the team with five goals each, while Dustin Walsh is the Big Green leader with five assists.
Gingera On Fire…Pioneer assistant captain Matt Gingera has five goals and six points in his last five games. He was named Team USA AHA Player of the Week on 11/28/11 for his five points in SHU's 1-1-1 week. He now has 52 career goals, putting him three back of fifth place (Garrett Larson-55) and four back of 3rd place (Bear Trapp-56) on the all-time SHU hockey. He is also closing in on 100 points, beginning the weekend with 89.
All Time vs. Quinnipiac..SHU renews an old AHA and MAAC rivalry with their first game against the Bobcats since 2/26/05, a 5-3 win for QU at the MIP. The Pioneers beat QU earlier in the season, prevailing 5-2 on 11/23/04 in the final season of their AHA rivalry before QU moved to the ECAC. Quinnipiac leads the all-time series 21-7-4.
All Time vs. Dartmouth..The Pioneers are 1-2 all-time against the Big Green, beating them 4-1 the last time the teams faced off on 12/13/09. Tommy Castonguay scored in that game, and Steven Legatto made 35 saves. That win also began a school-record 12-game unbeaten streak, turning around a season that SHU began 3-9-2.
All Time vs. the ECAC..The Pioneers are 8-26-1 all-time vs. ECAC schools, including two losses at Clarkson and a win over Yale this season.
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.
Ketchum Contributing...Ben Ketchum has scored five goals with two assists for seven points over his last six games. He takes on his former team, the Quinnipiac Bobcats, for the first time since transferring to SHU after his freshman season in Hamden.
Doubling Up...Six 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; Eric Delong, 12/3 vs. Robert Morris. 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.
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.
Freshman Orientation...The Pioneers added five freshman forwards this season: Ben Lake, Ryan Stanimir, Brian Sheehan, Chad Barthelmess, Drew George. Head Coach C.J. Marottolo provided a scouting report on his new recruits up front:
Lake comes to SHU known for being a fast, strong, two-way center who is very good in face offs. "He'll bring grit, intelligence, and speed," said Marottolo. The past two seasons for the Fort McMurray Oil Barons of the AJHL, he scored consistently. He followed up his 2009-10 scoring line of 24-27-51 in 58 games with a 2010-11 scoring line of 23-29-52 in 53 games.
Sheehan begins his collegiate career after tallying a line of 23-44-67 in 44 games for the Jersey Hitmen of the EJHL. "He is extremely skilled with a great, quick stick, said Marottolo. "We're looking for him to a point producer."
Barthelmess also come to SHU by way of the EJHL, after totaling 24-23-47 in 42 games for the Springfield Pics last year. "He is strong, fast, and can really shoot a puck," said Marottolo.
Stanimir looks to build on a season in the BCHL in which he produced nearly a point per game (20-35-55 in 56 games) for the Nanaimo Clippers. "He has a good stick, very good hockey IQ, and great offensive instincts," said Marottolo.
Drew George comes to the Pioneers by way of the Weyburn Red Wings of the SJHL, where he put up a scoring total of 21-36-57 in 47 games. "He is highly skilled, and a great play-maker who can make those around him better," said Marottolo.
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.
A Few Firsts...Brian Sheehan scored his first two goals against Bentley on 10/25, while Will Rayner, Ben Lake, and Drew George all scored their first career goals at Holy Cross 11/12.
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 4-2-2 in their last two seasons of home 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.
Up Next...The Pioneers return from the semester break for two AHA games in Erie, PN against the Mercyhurst Lakers on 1/6-7/12.