HARTFORD, Conn. – Behind a three-goal third period and 29 saves by goaltender Alex Vazzano (Trumbull, Conn.), the Sacred Heart men's hockey team defeated UConn 3-0 in the UConn Hockey Classic at XL Center Sunday night. The Pioneers will take on #8 Quinnipiac Monday night at 7:15 in the championship game.
"I was very happy with the level of competitiveness in our team tonight," said head coach C.J. Marottolo following Sunday's shutout, Sacred Heart's first since March 12, 2010. "I thought we did a good job of limiting UConn's chances and when they did get us on our heels, Alex Vazzano made some key saves in crucial moments. Overall, I thought our guys were engaged and excited to play."
Sacred Heart (5-12-0, 4-7-0 AHA) and UConn (6-6-2, 5-3-1 AHA) played a close, scoreless first period. The Huskies went on the power play five minutes into the game, putting four shots on net. Vazzano made all four saves as the defense also blocked a pair of shots. The Pioneers had a pair of breakaways snuffed out by UConn, as shots by Mitch Nylen (Lawrenceville, Ga.) and Coltyn Hansen (South Delta, B.C.) were stopped by Matt Grogan. UConn went on the power play again with 7:58 to play in the period but didn't score. Sacred Heart had its first power play with 1:24 to play in the first, putting three shots on net before the period ended.
The Pioneers got on the scoreboard 3:00 into the second period. Hansen shot home the rebound of a Spencer Graboski (Quesnel, B.C.) shot to give Sacred Heart a 1-0 lead. The goal was Hansen's first of his career. The Huskies went back on the power play with 13:02 to play in the period, but were held off the scoreboard as Vazzano made three saves and saw one shot hit the post. Sacred Heart extended the lead with 7:29 left in the second as Chad Filteau (Regina, Sask.) knocked in a loose puck right in front of the UConn net to make the score 2-0. Ben Lake (Calgary, Alb.) put Sacred Heart up 3-0 with 1:50 to play with his fourth goal of the season top shelf, assisted by Brian Sheehan (St. Louis, Mo.) and Jacob Brightbill (Anneville, Pa.).
UConn outshot Sacred Heart in the third period 14-8, but still could not get on the scoreboard. The Huskies also had two power plays in the final period, but the Pioneers held UConn to zero shots on goal on those two power plays.
Sacred Heart was outshot 29-26 for the game, but killed off all five penalties. The Pioneers were 0-for-2 on the power play themselves. Hansen and Graboski each had two points in the game for their first multi-point games of their careers.
The Pioneers will take on #8 Quinnipiac in the championship game of the UConn Hockey Classic Monday at 7:05 p.m.