PITTSBURGH, Pa. – The Sacred Heart men's hockey team could not overcome a three-goal first period deficit to the Robert Morris Colonials Friday night at 84 Lumber Arena, losing 4-1 in the first game of the best-of-three first round Atlantic Hockey Tournament series.
Robert Morris (19-12-4) got off to a fast start, scoring in the first 1:12 of the game. Zach Hervato won a faceoff to Colin South, who found Jeff Jones at the goalpost for the 1-0 lead. Sacred Heart (2-29-4) had a couple early chances to tie the game off the stick of Drew George (Regina, Sask.), but the Pioneers could not find the back of the net. The Colonials took a 2-0 lead with 13:43 left in the first when Mac Roy knocked in a loose puck right in front of the Pioneers' crease. Sacred Heart had a power play eight minutes into the game, but mustered just two shots as the score remained 2-0. Robert Morris tacked one more goal to cap off a dominant first period, taking a 3-0 lead into intermission. The Colonials outshot Sacred Heart 18-7 in the first 20 minutes and held a 16-10 advantage in faceoff wins.
The Pioneers and Colonials played an even second period, with Sacred Heart holding a 10-9 advantage in shots though neither team scored. Sacred Heart had two power plays in the period, but came up with just two shots on the two extra-man opportunities. Brian Sheehan (St. Louis, Mo.) and Ryan Stanimir (West Vancouver, B.C.) each had shots in the last minute of the second period go off the mark, keeping the score 3-0 in Robert Morris' favor after two periods. The Pioneers got on the scoreboard with 5:15 remaining in the third period when Sheehan, Chad Barthelmess (Norristown, Pa.), and Eric Delong (Oakville, Man.) combined for a breakaway goal, but it was too little too late. Robert Morris added an empty net goal to make the final score 4-1.
The Colonials outshot Sacred Heart 36-27 for the game. Neither team scored on the power play. The Pioneers were 0-for-5 on the man advantage with four shots. Andrew Bodnarchuk (Saskatoon, Sask.) made 32 saves for Sacred Heart as Eric Levine had 26 for Robert Morris. Delong and Stanimir each had a team-high four shots for the Pioneers.
Sacred Heart looks to fight off elimination Saturday night when the two teams meet again at 7:05 p.m. in game two of the best-of-three series.