MILFORD, Conn. – The Sacred Heart men's hockey team tied a season-high with six goals Saturday night, but fell 7-6 to the AIC Yellow Jackets at Milford Ice Pavilion. Five different Pioneers had at least two points on the night.
Ben Lake (Calgary, Alb.) had a career-high three points on a goal and two assists. Drew George (Regina, Sask.), Jake Lynes (Ellicott City, Md.), Spencer Graboski (Quesnel, B.C.) and Neil Fachini (East Hampton, Conn.) each had a goal and an assist. Graboski scored his first career goal and Fachini had his first career two-point game.
After an up-and-down start to the first period, AIC (10-19-1, 9-13-1 AHA) got on the scoreboard first at the 7:14 mark of the first period. Alexander MacMillan finished off a breakaway with a goal assisted by Jon Puskar and David Norris. Sacred Heart (9-21-0, 8-15-0 AHA) responded at the 11:57 mark when Graboski slammed home the rebound of a Lake shot to tie the game 1-1. The Yellow Jackets added two more goals, one shorthanded by Chris Porter and one from Dan Clairmont, to take a 3-1 lead into the first intermission.
Lake got the Pioneers back within a goal when he scored his second shorthanded goal of the season, making the score 3-2 6:42 into the second period. AIC got the lead back to two goals on a Brandon Fagerheim strike with 5:58 remaining in the middle stanza. Twenty-six seconds later, Lynes fired a laser past AIC goalie Hunter Leisner to put the score at 4-3. Less than a minute later, Jordan Minello (Sweaburg, Ont.) one-timed a Jeff Carroll (Kingston, Ont.) pass into the net to tie the game 4-4.
AIC took back the lead with two goals in the first six minutes of the third period, as Brandon Lubin's goal at 5:44 made the score 6-4. The Pioneers rallied late, getting a goal from George with 3:07 remaining in the game to put the score at 6-5. Puskar scored an empty-net power play goal with 0:25 left to give the Yellow Jackets a 7-5 lead, but Fachini closed the gap to one with his first goal of the season nine seconds later. Sacred Heart couldn't get the tying goal in the final 16 seconds and AIC escaped with the win.
The Pioneers outshot AIC 43-30 for the game. The Yellow Jackets were 1-for-4 on the power play while Sacred Heart was 0-for-4. Leisner made 37 saves for AIC while Alex Vazzano (Trumbull, Conn.) had 17 in relief of Andrew Bodnarchuk (Saskatoon, Sask.). Puskar had two goals and two assists for AIC as MacMillan added a goal and two assists.
Sacred Heart is back in action on Friday, Feb. 21 when it hosts Bentley at 7:05 p.m. at Milford Ice Pavilion.