MILFORD, Conn. – Sophomore defenseman Jacob Brightbill (Anneville, Pa.) scored his first career goal Saturday night as the Sacred Heart men's hockey team fell 4-1 to the Niagara Purple Eagles at the Milford Ice Pavilion. The two teams split the weekend series after the Pioneers beat Niagara 4-3 Friday.
Sacred Heart (7-19-0, 6-13-0 AHA) went on the power play 1:44 into the hockey game as Niagara's (8-15-3, 8-8-3 AHA) Matt Chiarantano was called for hooking. The Pioneers managed two shots on the power play with both being stopped by Purple Eagles goaltender Jackson Teichroeb. Andrew Bodnarchuk (Saskatoon, Sask.) was also sharp early for the Pioneers. The junior goalie made 12 saves in the first 13:54 of the game to keep the game scoreless. Niagara outshot Sacred Heart 16-6 in the opening period, and finally broke through with the game's first goal with 1:12 remaining in the frame. Chiarantano scored on the power play with assists from Vince Muto and Isaac Kohls to make the score 1-0.
Both teams were held scoreless in the second period. Sacred Heart had a golden opportunity to tie the game early in the third period when Niagara's Kevin Albers was given a five minute major for contact to the head and a disqualification. The Pioneers had a five minute power play but managed just three shots as Niagara hung on to the 1-0 lead. The Purple Eagles went up 2-0 on an Isaac Kohl power play goal with 11:09 to play in the game. Sacred Heart cut the deficit to one, 2-1, on Brightbill's goal with 7:33 remaining. The sophomore defenseman scored on the power play, firing a David Iacono (Newmarket, Ont.) pass from the high slot past Teichroeb. Niagara got the lead back to two 2:13 later when TJ Sarcona knocked in the rebound of a Matt Chartrain shot to make the score 3-1.
Niagara outshot Sacred Heart 35-28 for the game and was 2-for-6 on the power play. The Pioneers were 1-for-6 on the power play. Bodnarchuk made 31 saves for Sacred Heart as Teichroeb had 27 for the Purple Eagles.
Sacred Heart will host Holy Cross on Friday, Feb. 7 at 7:05 p.m. at Milford Ice Pavilion to open a home-and-home series.