March 20, 2010
Rochester, NY - The Pioneer men's ice hockey team came up just short of the program's first ever Atlantic Hockey Championship, as the RIT Tigers downed Sacred Heart 6-1 tonight at the Blue Cross Arena. Tournament MVP Cameron Burt posted one goal and four assists as RIT won its first ever conference crown. Jared DeMichiel made 32 saves for the Tigers, including several sparkling stops early. SHU netminder Steven Legatto (Kelowna, BC) made 33 saves in his first championship appearance.
Sacred Heart (21-13-4) had the first golden opportunity of the game as Erik Boisvert (Drummondville, QC) found himself on the doorstep with the puck after a rebound. DeMichiel slid to his left and robbed Boisvert with a great glove save just 49 seconds into the period and took away a goal that would have changed the entire complexion of the title game.
The Pioneers were dealt a devastating blow 1:48 into the contest as David Berube (Quebec City, QC) was charged with a five minute major penalty, coupled with a game misconduct. RIT (26-11-1) would make the Pioneers pay 28 seconds into the power play as Burt scored from the right circle with a pass from Dan Ringwald. Sacred Heart would be able to kill of the rest of the major penalty without incident. SHU nearly knotted the score at the nine minute mark as Patrick Knowlton (Colorado Springs, CO) had a chance to score on a power play, he too was denied by a circus save from DeMichiel.
RIT ended the frame with another crushing shot to Sacred Heart, netting a short handed marker with just 19 ticks left in the first. Chris Saracino fired a shot that Legatto was able to turn aside and Mike Janda put the rebound off the inside of the crossbar. Mark Cornacchia gathered the carom and put the puck into an open net to give the Tigers a 2-0 lead heading into the first intermission.
The Tigers extended the lead to 3-0 liting the lamp 1:08 into the middle period. Sean Murphy tallied his fifth goal of the season with a one timer from a pass off the stick of Burt. The Pioneers would then have multiple chances to break onto the scoreboard and cut into the RIT advantage. Nick Johnson (Windsor, CT) put a snap shot on goal during a SHU power play that DeMichiel just turned aside. Boisvert was lurking on the doorstep for the rebound but he was denied for the second time for the night thanks to a diving save from the RIT goaltender.
At the end of the same man advantage senior Paul Ferraro (Pleasantville, NY) took a slap shot from the point that beat DeMichiel but bounced off the right post. Freshman Eric Delong (Oakville, MB) had his shot from the high slot with 11:00 on the clock ring off the crossbar to also keep SHU off the board. One minute later the Tigers made it a 4-0 affair as Jeff Smith faked a pass and then shot over Legatto's shoulder on a two-on-one rush. RIT would again score at the end of the frame when Tyler Brenner found the back of the net on a power play, his shot came from the bottom of left circle to make it 5-0.
The Pioneers continued to skate hard and got their first goal of the championship game 3:48 into the final period. Boisvert tossed a back handed pass into the slot and Delong fell to the ice as he knocked the puck into the cage for his 15th goal of the year. Legatto also maintained his concentration and at one point made four saves in rapid succession during an RIT man advantage. SHU had a couple more chances but DeMichiel would not let them build momentum for a comeback and RIT sealed its first conference title with one more late goal from Sean Murphy, making it a 6-1 final.
Sacred Heart head coach C.J. Marottolo commented on the disappointing finish, "Our guys left it all out on the ice. I couldn't be prouder of how they played the third period. They fought hard and respected the game."
The Pioneers finished the season tying the program's all time win mark at 21 and scoring the most goals for a squad in SHU history, netting 131. "Our seniors led the way all season and have set the bar high for the future of Sacred Heart hockey" said Marottolo.
Knowlton (Sacred Heart)
Cameron Burt (RIT) - Tournament MVP
Tyler Brenner (RIT)
Dan Ringwald (RIT)
Chris Tanev (RIT)
Jared DeMichiel (RIT)