Setting the Scene... The Sacred Heart men's ice hockey team travels to Niagara for its second to last road trip of the regular season.
Last Time Out... The Pioneers were unable to escape a three-goal deficit, falling to Robert Morris 3-1 this past Saturday. The Colonials tacked on one goal in each period as Michael Coyne, Timmy Moore and Eric Israel found the back of the net. SHU finally lit the lamp on Vito Bavaro's 14th goal of the season at 15:07 in the third. The Pioneers went on the extra attacker opportunity with 2:30 left in regulation but were unable to get one past Francis Marotte. Brett Magnus recorded 23 saves for SHU.
Last Meeting... Niagara pulled away with a 6-2 win over the Pioneers to earn the weekend sweep on October 28, 2017. SHU struck first in the second on Vito Bavaro's goal at 1:09. The Purple Eagles gained control the rest of the way with five straight goals in the second and third period. Zach Tsekos broke up the Niagara streak with his goal at 14:31 in the third to make it 5-2. But Derian Plouffe tacked on the empty net goal to seal the game.
All-Time Series... The Purple Eagles own 13-5-2 lead in 20 meetings all-time between both teams. SHU holds the 5-4-1 edge in the last 10 meetings with Niagara taking the last three meetings. It is the first time since 2012 that the Pioneers will play at Dwyer Arena.
Scouting The Purple Eagles... Niagara comes into the matchup 11-16-3, 10-11-3 in Atlantic Hockey. Since earning a series sweep at Air Force on December 2, the Purple Eagles struggled posting 2-11-2 mark. Derian Plouffe is among the league leaders in points with 32 on 15 goals and 17 assists. Noah Delmas leads all Atlantic Hockey defensemen with 26 points, he also ranks among assist leaders with 23 on the season. Brian Wilson has had a strong season between the pipes for Niagara with a 2.72 goals against average and .901 save percentage. The Purple Eagles rank eighth in the nation on the penalty kill at 85.4 %.
Bavaro Breakout... Vito Bavaro has had a breakout sophomore campaign, he doubled his goal total from a season ago with his 14th of the season this past Saturday against RMU. His 23 points and 14 tallies lead the team and ranking fifth in Atlantic Hockey with .54 goals per game. He certainly isn't afraid to shoot, firing up team-high 101 shots on goal in 26 games.
Four Pioneers Among Atlantic Hockey Rookie Leaders... The freshmen group of Alex Bates, Marc Johnstone, Jordan Kaplan and Matt Tugnutt rank in the top 10 in Atlantic Hockey freshman scoring. Johnstone ranks tied for second with 21 points and 0.78 points per game average. Tugnutt sits fourth with 18 points, Bates is sixth with 12 points and Kaplan is seventh with 11 points.