PITTSBURGH – The Sacred Heart men's hockey team was within one goal of the Robert Morris Colonials heading into the third period at 84 Lumber Arena Saturday night, but could not pull even as the Colonials defeated the Pioneers 7-4 to sweep the weekend series.
Sacred Heart (0-24-2, 0-16-2 Atlantic Hockey) had a couple chances to take an early lead as Kyle Verbeek (Birmingham, Mich.) had a pair of shots stopped by Robert Morris (14-9-2, 9-8-1) goaltender Eric Levine in the first five minutes. The Colonials broke the seal on the game 5:14 into the contest when Zac Lynch knocked in a rebound of a David Rigatti shot from the point to give Robert Morris a 1-0 lead. Robert Morris continued to keep play in the Pioneers' end, with Andrew Bodnarchuk (Saskatoon, SK) making a pair of sprawling saves to keep the score 1-0.
The Pioneers tied the game 1-1 with 6:41 remaining in the period when Brian Sheehan (St. Louis, Mo.) setup Ben Ketchum (Greenwich, Conn.) for his fourth goal of the season. However, Robert Morris capped off the first period with a second goal. Adam Brace scored on a breakaway with 42 seconds left to put the Colonials ahead 2-1, capping a period that saw Robert Morris take 14 shots to Sacred Heart's six.
Sacred Heart tied the game 2-2 4:48 into the second period. Eric Delong (Oakville, MB) scored 40 seconds into a power play with a shot from the left faceoff circle, shooting the puck right past Levine's glove. Robert Morris went back in front with 12:06 remaining in the period when Cody Wydo snuck the puck just inside the goal post on the power play. The Colonials tacked on another power play goal 1:23 later to take a 4-2 lead. Wydo scored his second goal of the period with 5:46 remaining to give Robert Morris a 5-2 lead.
The Pioneers battled back to get within a goal before intermission. Ryan Stanimir (West Vancouver, BC) scored his third goal of the season with 2:10 to play with an assist from Jared Eng (North Vancouver, BC). Sacred Heart then scored on a power play with 23 seconds remaining. Delong won a faceoff back to freshman Jacob Brightbill (Anneville, Pa.), who fired the puck past Levine to make the score 5-4. The goal was Brightbill's first of his career and got Sacred Heart within one at the end of the second period.
Bodnarchuk made five saves in the first five minutes of the third period to keep the score 5-4. Sheehan had a chance to tie the game 5-5 with 13:52 to play, but his chance on a 2-on-1 breakaway went wide of the goal. The Colonials then got the lead back up to two with 11:32 to play when a Zach Hervato goal put Robert Morris up 6-4. Robert Morris outshot Sacred Heart 16-11 in the third and added a power play goal in the final five minutes to make the final score 7-4.
Sacred Heart wraps up its current four-game road swing on Friday, Feb. 8 when the Pioneers open a home-and-home Atlantic Hockey series at Holy Cross. The Pioneers and Crusaders will drop the puck at 7 p.m.