ERIE, Pa. – The Sacred Heart hockey team lost its fourth consecutive game Saturday night, falling 4-1 to the Mercyhurst Lakers at Mercyhurst Ice Center. The Pioneers tied the game 1-1 in the second period but allowed three unanswered goals in the third period.
Sacred Heart (4-12-0, 3-7-0 AHA) and Mercyhurst (9-7-1, 7-1-0 AHA) played a wide-open first period, combining for 32 shots on goal. The Pioneers outshot the Lakers 19-13, as Drew George (Regina, Sask.), David Iacono (Newmarket, Ont.) and Justin Danforth (Oshawa, Ont.) each had three shots in the period. For all those shots in the first period, Alex Vazzano (Trumbull, Conn.) and Jimmy Sarjeant kept both teams off the scoreboard.
Mercyhurst had a chance to score early in the second period, but Vazzano stopped Ryan Misiak's shot on the breakaway. Ben Lake (Calgary, Alb.) was also stopped on a breakaway, but he drew a Lakers' penalty with 14:43 left in the period to put Sacred Heart on the power play. The Pioneers had three shots on the man advantage, but couldn't get one past Sarjeant.
The Lakers went on the power play at the 11:34 mark of the second as Jacob Brightbill (Anneville, Pa.) was called for tripping. Mercyhurst cashed in seven seconds later, as Kyle Just scored to give Mercyhurst a 1-0 lead. The Pioneers quickly responded with a George tally set up by Evan Jasper (Whitby, Ont.) and Danforth to tie the game 1-1 with 10:55 to play in the second period. Vazzano kept the game tied by stopping a pair of Just shots. Just also hit a goal post in the period. Both sides had a power play late in the period, but neither team scored as Sacred Heart and Mercyhurst went into the second intermission tied 1-1.
Mercyhurst took the lead 3:49 into the third period. Daniel Bahntge knocked in the rebound of a Daniel O'Donoghue shot to give the Lakers' a 2-1 lead. Sacred Heart had three consecutive power plays as the Lakers were called for penalties at the 14:33, 13:46, and 12:43 marks. The Pioneers had two five-on-three advantages but only managed two shots. After killing the first two penalties, the Lakers got a shorthanded goal from Matthew Zay with 11:01 remaining in the game to give Mercyhurst a 3-1 lead. Lake had an opportunity to get Sacred Heart within a goal in the last five minutes, but his shot on the breakaway went wide of goal. The Lakers added another goal in the final three minutes of the game to win 4-1.
The Lakers held a slim 39-38 edge in shots for the game, but outshot Sacred Heart 14-5 in the third period. The Pioneers were 0-for-6 on the power play while Mercyhurst was 1-for-4. Vazzano made 34 saves for Sacred Heart as Sarjeant had 37 for the Lakers.
Sacred Heart returns to action on Sunday, Dec. 29 in the UConn Holiday Classic. The Pioneers will take on the host Huskies at 7:05 p.m. that night at the XL Center in Hartford.