Setting the Scene…The Pioneers return home for the first time since December 3 for a two-game weekend series at Webster Bank Arena against the RIT Tigers.
Game Coverage...Video Audio of this weekend's games will be available at www.SacredHeartPioneers.com by following the video and 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 tied for third in the AHA with eighth goals. He, senior captain Eric Delong, and freshman Brian Sheehan are tied for the team lead with 13 points. Ben Ketchum has contributed six goals and four assists for 10 points. Steven Legatto has seen the majority of time in net this year, making the fifth most saves in the AHA (439).
About the Tigers…The defending AHA regular season champions are coming off four games against three college hockey powerhouses, following wins against #11 Ferris State (3-0) and #16 Lake Superior (3-1) on 12/29-30 with losses (6-3, 2-1) last weekend at Wisconsin. Cameron Burt leads the team with 16 points (4 g, 12 a), followed by Mike Colavecchia (6-9-15), who is tied with Adam Hartley for a team best six goals. Shane Madolora has seen the majority of time in net and is 8-4-1 with a 2.31 GAA. The Tigers are the AHA's most penalized team, averaging 17.1pim/g with 342 PIM on the season.
Gingera Closing in on 100…Pioneer assistant captain Matt Gingera has scored a team-best nine goals and is tied for the team lead with 14 points, putting him at 53 goals and 37 assists for 90 points in his career. He is now two behind fifth place (Garrett Larson-55) and three behind third place (Bear Trapp-56) on the all-time SHU hockey goals list. He is 10 points away from becoming the 11th player in Pioneer Hockey history to accumulate 100 points or more for a career.
All-Time Vs. RIT...SHU is 4-10-2 all-time vs. RIT. The last time Tigers and Pioneers faced off on 11/27/10 at Ritter Arena in Rochester, Matt Gingera scored twice and Reid MacLeod also netted a goal in a 3-3 tie. Tayler McReynolds scored with 29 seconds left with an extra attacker on to tie the game and help earn RIT salvage a point.
Last Time Out...Sacred Heart dropped two conference games at Mercyhurst last weekend, falling 9-1 and 3-1. After surrendering six second period goals in Friday's game, the Pioneers fought back to tie in the third on a power play goal by Tommy Castonguay on Saturday. However, Nick Jones scored the game-winner 24 seconds later for the Lakers at 11:56. Steven Legatto made 38 saves in the game.
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 marked 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...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.
Return of the Mac...Reid MacLeod returned to the line-up for his first games of the season last weekend. The junior winger has registered seven goals and nine assists for 16 points in 38 career games. Freshman defenseman Jared Eng also returned to the line-up against Mercyhurst after missing all but two games first semester with an injury.
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.
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, and at 4:00 pm on 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...Sacred Heart goes on the road for two games at Canisius next weekend, with 3:00 pm faceoffs on Sat., Jan. 21 and Sun., 22.