Pioneers Rally to Upend Army, 2-1
Feb. 9, 2005
West Point, NY (February 8) - The Sacred Heart University men's ice hockey team (10-15-1, 10-5-1 AHA) used a pair of goals by junior Andrew Billinghurst (Fort Collins, CO) to overcome a 1-0 third period deficit to the Army Black Knights (3-16-2, 2-12-2) to move into sole possession of third place in Atlantic Hockey.
The Pioneers came out fast in the first period, nearly scoring on their first shift, however Billinghurst's pass for a cutting Pierre-Luc O'Brien (Nicolet, QC) was just behind him and O'Brien wasn't able to get a shot off. Neither side would score for the duration and the teams headed to the locker rooms without a goal scored.
Army put pressure on early in the second, but SHU net minder Kevin LaPointe (Quebec City, QC) held them off the board allowing the Pioneers to create some chances of their own. Chris Connerty (Rayham, MA) had the Pioneers best chance of the period to score. After picking up a loose puck, he sprinted down the right wing and sent a shot that rang off the cross bar behind Army goalie Brad Roberts a little over six minutes into the frame. Alexandre Parent (Boisbraind, QC) also nearly put SHU on top, but Roberts thwarted his attempt on the two-on-one opportunity.
The Black Knights would finally break the 0-0 tie late in the second off a face off. Chris Garceau sent a low slap shot to the far side of LaPointe, which snuck through the traffic in front of the net and found its way into the goal to give Army the 1-0 lead heading into the final stanza.
An Army penalty to Nick Cahill gave the Pioneers a power play about seven minutes into the third. It would prove to be the spark the Pioneers needed, as Billinghurst would net his eighth goal of the season. The play started when Bernie Chmiel (Pittsburgh, PA) set up Scott Marchesi (South Portland, ME) for a drive from the point. Roberts saved his shot, but the rebound found the stick of Billinghurst who didn't waste the opportunity to knot the score at 1-1.
Army would give SHU another third period power play, but penalties to Garrett Larson (Rycroft, AB) and Billinghurst ultimately turned a five-on-four power play for Sacred Heart, into a four-on-three opportunity for Army. The Pioneer penalty killers would hold Army without a significant scoring opportunity and off the board keeping the score tied at 1-1.
A goaltender interference penalty to Army's Seth Beamer would set the Pioneers up with another power play opportunity with 5:45 left in regulation, however the best scoring opportunity of the two minutes came on a Army short handed break away. Seth Beamer intercepted a pass at the blue line and sprung in all alone on LaPointe, but the senior goalie would hold his ground and keep the Pioneers in the game. Army would keep the pressure on as the penalty expired forcing LaPointe to make an amazing glove save to keep the score level.
The Pioneers, inspired by the play of LaPointe, rushed down the ice looking for the go-ahead goal. Rocco Molinaro (Dearborn, MI) hit Larson with a pass coming out of the Pioneer zone, he then fed it to Billinghurst who skated down the right wing, avoided the Army defenseman and cut in on Roberts. Billinghurst sent a shot on net, which Roberts got a piece of, but not enough to keep out of the net as the Pioneers went up 2-1.
Army would pull Roberts for an extra attacker, but Sacred Heart would withstand the frantic Army attack and hold on for a much needed 2-1 victory.
LaPointe finished the night making 29 saves for the win, while Roberts stopped 22 in the loss. The win marks the fourth time this season that the Pioneers have won after trailing after the end of two periods.
The Pioneers return to action on Friday, February 11 when they travel to Worcester, MA to face off with Holy Cross. The puck drops at 7:30 PM.