Nov. 20, 2005
Erie, PA - Mercyhurst got excellent goaltending from junior Mike Ella and a two-point game from freshman forward Chris Trafford to turn back Sacred Heart 3-1 Saturday night and get a split of their two-game weekend series. The Lakers improved to 7-3-0 overall and returned to first place in Atlantic Hockey with a 6-2-0 slate. The Pioneers, who occupied the top rung in the league for 24 hours, dropped to 5-3-1 and 5-2-1 respectively.
After a scoreless first period, the Lakers opened the scoring at 12:19 of the middle period when Trafford cashed a power play goal, his third lamplighter of the season. The Kinburn, Ontario, native was helped by senior forward Scott Reynolds and Ella. Ella's helper was the first by a Mercyhurst goaltender since Andy Franck turned the trick at American International on January 25, 2003. Less than 90 seconds later, however, referee Brian Panek awarded Sacred Heart senior forward Rocco Molinaro (Dearborn, MI) a rare penalty shot after he was slashed on a breakaway. Molinaro beat Ella at 14:10 to tie the game. But sophomore forward Matt Warren, playing only his second game of the season, put the Lakers ahead to stay with an even strength marker at 16:32. Junior forward Scott Champagne and freshman defenseman Kirk Medernach assisted on the play. Champagne's point extended his consecutive game scoring streak to 29.
The third period was hotly contested before sophomore forward Ryan Toomey gave Ella and the Lakers some breathing room with a power play tally, his fourth goal of the season, at 10:49. Junior forward Kyle Gourgon and Trafford helped on the goal. The Lakers kept things interesting by taking back-to-back penalties late in the game, but the Pioneers could not capitalize.
Ella, who allowed eight goals eight days ago in an embarrassing 10-3 loss at Holy Cross, allowed only the penalty shot in 30 SHU attempts in picking up his third win of the season in five decisions. Sacred Heart junior netminder Jason Smith (St. Lambert, QC), one of the heroes of the Pioneers' 4-2 win Friday, saw his record fall to 5-3-1. Mercyhurst remained perfect when leading after forty minutes (6-0-0) and when playing on Saturday night (5-0-0).
Sacred Heart outshot Mercyhurst 30-25, including a sizeable 12-4 advantage in the final period. The Lakers, who improved to 10-8-2 lifetime against the Pioneers, connected on 2 of 6 power plays while the Pioneers failed in five tries.
The Pioneers will return to the ice on Sunday November 27th when they host RIT at 4:00 pm at the Milford Ice Paviion.