Setting the Scene... The 11th seed Sacred Heart men's ice hockey team travels to one-seed Mercyhurst for the Atlantic Hockey Quarterfinal series. The best-of-three series starts Friday night at the Mercyhurst Ice Center.
Last Time Out... The Pioneers shutout sixth-seed RIT 2-0 in the deciding game three on Sunday night to reach the quarterfinals for the first time in three seasons. Mike Crocock picked up the first SHU goal 12:06 in the opening period. Austin McIlmurray picked up the power play goal with 34 seconds remaining in the period. Both Crocock & McIlmurray scored in Saturday's 4-3 triple overtime win. Zach Tsekos recorded two assists in the second straight game. Brett Magnus was sensational between the pipes, recording 18 of his 32 saves in the third period for his second collegiate shutout.
Last Meeting... SHU pulled out the 5-3 win over the Lakers back on December 2, 2017 to earn the weekend series split. The Pioneers jumped out to the two goal lead off scores from Vito Bavaro and Jason Cotton. Both teams traded goals in the second stanza as SHU skated to the 3-2 lead in the second intermission. The Pioneers scored back-to-back in the third as Cotton netted the game winner 3:27 into the period. Mercyhurst added one goal at 11:47 but wasn't enough for the comeback. Cotton led SHU with two points along with Matt Tugnutt's two assists. Brett Magnus recorded 28 saves in goal for the Pioneers.
All-Time Series... Mercyhurst ownts the all-time series lead at 26-24-5 overall. The Pioneers hold the slight edge in the last 10 meetings between both teams at 5-3-2. It is the first meeting between both teams in the postseason.
Scouting The Lakers... Mercyhurst went 12-2-2 in the return from winter break to claim the Atlantic Hockey regular season title and the top overall seed in the playoffs. The Lakers lead the league in scoring offense at 3.32 goals per game and rank first on the power play at 24%, Mercyhurst sits top 10 in the nation in both categories. Derek Barach leads the offense in scoring with 36 points. Captain Jack Riley is the team's top goal scorer with 16 on the season while defenseman Zach Todd is the top distributor with 23 assists. Brandon Wildung has made 32 appearances between the pipes for Merychurst allowing just 2.81 goals per game and owns a .918 save percentage.
Pios in the Quarterfinals… SHU reached its first quarterfinal series since the 2015 season, overall it is the 10th Atlantic Hockey quarterfinal appearance in school history since the leagues inception back in 2003-04. The Pioneers hold a 5-7 record in the best-of three format dating back to 2007-08 when the league adopted it. SHU looks to reach the semifinals for the first time since 2009-10.
Johnstone Earns All-Rookie Team Honors... A three-time Atlantic Hockey rookie of the week honoree, Marc Johnstone was named to the All-Rookie team this past Monday. Johnstone finished tied for the freshman lead in scoring with 10 goals and 12 assists in conference play. He recorded six multi-point games this season and is second on the team with 29 points and tied for team lead with 17 assists. His scoring output is the most by a SHU rookie since Justin Danforth recorded 29 points back in 2013-14.
Captain Clutch... Junior Co-Captain Mike Crocock tied for the team lead with two goals this past weekend against RIT, none bigger than the game winner in Sunday's 2-0 win. The goal was his second game winner of the season against the Tigers after netting the game winner back on February 18. The third-year defenseman has four goals on his career, three of which have come in the postseason.