STORRS, Conn. – Trailing 4-2 early in the third period, the Sacred Heart men's hockey team rallied for a 4-4 overtime tie against the Connecticut Huskies at Freitas Ice Forum Friday night. Senior captain Eric Delong (Oakville, Man.) notched the game-tying goal shorthanded with 2:20 remaining in the game.
Sacred Heart (2-27-4, 2-20-4 AHA) controlled the game early, scoring 57 seconds into the game. Drew George (Regina, Sask.) forced a turnover at the Connecticut (16-13-4, 13-10-3) blueline, then shot a backhand over goaltender Matt Grogan's right shoulder and in to make the score 1-0. The Pioneers then had a golden opportunity to take a 2-0 lead at the 13:41 mark, going on a 5-on-3 power play. Delong and Will Rayner (Needham, Mass.) each had quality chances at goal, but Sacred Heart came up empty on the power play.
The Pioneers continued to hold the Huskies at bay, extending the lead to 2-0 at the 5:49 mark. Ben Lake scored his sixth goal of the season, with assists from Nick Curry (Augusta, Ga.) and Ryan Stanimir (West Vancouver, B.C.), to increase the Sacred Heart advantage on the scoreboard. Almost two minutes later, George had an opportunity to make the score 3-0 but his one-timer at the goal post went wide. UConn got on the scoreboard with 1:30 remaining in the period when Billy Latta found Brant Harris right in front of the Sacred Heart goal. Harris knocked in the feed from Latta to get the Huskies within one before intermission.
Sacred Heart killed off a penalty to start the second period, with a little help from the goal post that stopped a Latta drive. The Pioneers had a power play at the 17:57 mark, but could not extend the lead even as it turned into a 5-on-3 for 25 seconds. The Huskies tied the game 2-2 with 10:32 remaining in the period when Shawn Pauly deflected a Skyler Smutek shot into the goal. UConn then took a 3-2 lead with 1:22 to play in the second when Cody Sharib let loose a low slap shot that went under Andrew Bodnarchuk's (Saskatoon, Sask.) glove and into the back of the net. The Huskies outshot Sacred Heart 11-5 in the second period and took their one-goal advantage into the locker for the second intermission.
UConn extended its lead to 4-2 1:26 into the third period when Sean Ambrosie tallied a power play goal from Latta and Jordan Sims. The Pioneers had a power play with 17:41 left in the third, but shots by Tommy Castonguay (Rimouski, Quebec) and Kyle Verbeek (Birmingham, Mich.) were stopped by Grogan. Chad Barthelmess (Norristown, Pa.) got the Pioneers within one with 7:04 to play, knocking in a Brian Sheehan (St. Louis, Mo.) pass to make the score 4-3.
Sacred Heart then found themselves in a tough situation with 4:38 to play when Barthelmess was penalized five minutes for hitting from behind. The Pioneers' penalty kill held strong, creating a shorthanded opportunity with 2:20 to play. Ben Lake (Calgary, Alb.) created a turnover in the neutral zone and skated the puck into the UConn end. Lake then found Delong who blasted a shot past Grogan to tie the game 4-4 with a shorthanded goal.
Sacred Heart successfully killed off the major penalty in the overtime, allowing just five shots on UConn's five minute power play. The Huskies best chance for a game-winner came with 1:40 to play when Sharib had a shot go off the post. Alex Stuart (Sauk Rapids, Minn.) had two shots for Sacred Heart in the last 1:20 saved by Grogan and the game ended in a 4-4 draw.
UConn outshot Sacred Heart 38-22 for the game, and was 2-for-9 on the power play. Bodnarchuk made 34 saves for the Pioneers as Grogan had 18 for the Huskies.
The Pioneers and Huskies will wrap up the regular season on Saturday with a 4 p.m. game at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport. Prior to the game, the Sacred Heart Department of Athletics will honor the nine seniors on the men's hockey team for Senior Day.