ERIE, Pa.— The 11th seed Sacred Heart University men's ice hockey team had its season come to a close as Jonathan Charbonneau buried the game-winning goal 9:39 into overtime to give one-seed Mercyhurst the 3-2 victory on Saturday night.
The Pioneers (13-22-4) got off to the early 2-0 lead but it was the Lakers (21-11-4) that ended the game with three unanswered goals to sweep the Atlantic Hockey quarterfinal series at the Mercyhurst Ice Center.
Sophomore Austin McIlmurray scored the Pioneers opening score and junior Stephen Hladin added the second early in the second period. Four different Pioneers earned assists on the night as junior Jackson Barliant, sophomores Jason Cotton and Zach Tsekos and freshman Josh Allan recorded helpers. Junior goaltender Brett Magnus registered 43 saves in goal for SHU.
SHU opened the game converting on its first power play opportunity as McIlmurray netted the team's third power-play goal of the series at 5:29 in the opening period. The Pioneers controlled much of the first period outshooting the Lakers 13-9 in the frame.
The Pioneers doubled up the lead early in the second period off of the Mercyhurst turnover as Hladin fired home the wrist shot at 2:42. The Lakers league-leading offense wouldn't stay quiet for long as Thomas Bucci completed the three-on-one rush with his goal at 5:38 in the second. Mercyhurst then tied things up 44 seconds later as Jonathan Charbonneau chipped in the rebound goal for his fourth score of the weekend.
Both teams looked to put the game away in the third but neither could find the back of the net as Mercyhurst held the shots on goal edge 11-10 in the third frame. SHU earned the power play early in the extra period but couldn't convert against the Lakers penalty kill.
SHU was then called for a hold as the Lakers nearly converted on the breakaway opportunity a few minutes later. Mercyhurst went to work on the power play looking to answer as it entered the night with Atlantic Hockey's top power play at 23.9%. On the tail end of the man-advantage, Duszak sent the touch pass out to Charbonneau at the right circle for the one-timer that found the back of the net 9:39 into extra time to move the Mercyhurst to the Atlantic Hockey semifinals.
How They Scored…
5:29 – 1st Period: SHU 1, Mercyhurst 0: On the first power play of the game SHU moved the puck with ease at the top as Allan sent the puck to Tsekos at the left circle. He saw McIlmurray calling for the puck atop of the circle setting up the one-timer for the third power-play goal of the weekend.
2:42 – 2nd Period: SHU 2, Mercyhurst 0: A turnover by the Lakers in the neutral zone allowed Barliant to use his speed to pick up the loose puck and drive into the Lakers zone. He pulled up at the right circle and hit Hladin on the trail as he buried the wrist shot past Wildung to double up the lead.
5:38 – 2nd Period: SHU 2, Mercyhurst 1: The Lakers drew the three-on-one rush after the Pioneers tried to keep the puck in the Mercyhurst zone. Jonathan Charbonneau got the puck in the neutral zone sending the puck to Joe Duszak as they raced into the Pioneers end. Duszak found Bucci on the trail to bury the open look.
6:22 – 2nd Period: SHU 2, Mercyhurst 2: Off the faceoff draw win in the Pioneers end, Duszak fired the slap shot from the top of the slot. The shot was denied by Magnus but the puck trickled out to the right side as Charbonneau chipped in the rebound to tie the game.
9:39 – Overtime: Mercyhurst 3, SHU 2: On the tail end of the power play opportunity the Lakers moved the puck through the Pioneers zone. Patrick Piacentini sent the puck to Duszak at the top of the point. He quickly touched up the puck directing it to Charbonneau at the right circle. He fired the one-timer past Magnus' blocker side to seal the win.
Key Stats & Notes…
- Mercyhurst led the shots on goal for the second straight night, outshooting SHU 46-37.
- McIlmurray's goal in the first was his third of the postseason and his 14th of the season.
- Tsekos ended the season with an assist in four straight games, finishing with six assists in the playoffs.
- Magnus recorded 40+ saves for the fourth time this season with his 43 saves tonight.
The Pioneers end the 2017-18 season 13-22-4, the fifth straight season with double-digit wins.