Feb. 11, 2010
Setting the Scene... Sacred Heart enters this weekend’s home and home series with the AIC Yellow Jackets in third place in the Atlantic Hockey standings. The Pioneers have won both of the previous two meetings this season against the Yellow Jackets. SHU settled for a series split last week against the RIT Tigers after having their nation leading 12 game unbeaten streak snapped Friday night. AIC climbed out of last place in Atlantic Hockey as they completed their first sweep of the season last weekend against Bentley.
The Series... These two teams have met twice this season with the Pioneers winning 5-3 on their home ice and defeating the Yellow Jackets 6-1 in West Springfield, MA. David Berube (Quebec City, QC) notched a hat trick in SHU’s last meeting with AIC. In the all-time series the Pioneers have dominated the Yellow Jackets with a 21-10-5 record.
Johnson Leads Nation... Senior Nick Johnson (Windsor, CT) currently leads the country with 22 goals in 2009-10 and ranks fourth in the nation with 39 total points. The SHU winger holds a two goal lead over second place Corey Troop of Michigan St. (20). Johnson, the reigning NCAA player of the month, netted the game winning goal in a 5-4 victory over RIT Saturday night.
Streak Stopped, Not SHU... Sacred Heart carried its longest unbeaten streak in program history, and what was tops in the nation, into last weekend’s showdown with the RIT Tigers. RIT upended the Pioneers 5-2 Friday night to stop the streak and earn a bit of revenge; SHU snapped an 11 game unbeaten streak of the Tigers last season. But Sacred Heart was not phased by the loss as they rebounded with a 5-4 victory in the series finale and avoided a season sweep at the hands of the Tigers.
Parade to the Box... The Pioneers took a season high 13 penalties for 34 minutes Friday night and 58 total penalty minutes in their weekend series with RIT. The Tigers also spent 58 minutes in the sin bin in a physical weekend set. This made the difference in the series opener, a 5-2 RIT win, special teams. Sacred Heart, now the conference’s second best power play unit, would only be able to capitalize once on 11 chances with the man advantage. The Tigers took advantage of their opportunities, finding the net three times on nine chances on the power play, providing their margin of victory.
Road to Rochester... Sacred Heart could earn an inside track to the Blue Cross Arena, the site of the AHA final four, if they finish the season in fourth place or better. The top four teams in Atlantic Hockey will host a best of three quarterfinal series for the right to move on to Rochester. The Pioneers currently sit in third place, one point in front of Mercyhurst. SHU is three points out of second but have two games in hand on current number two Air Force.
Scouting the Yellow Jackets... The AIC attack is led by a rookie, freshman Adam Pleskach has 12 goals and 6 assists for 18 points in 2009-10. In the Yellow Jackets sweep of Bentley, Michael Penny was the hero of the series opener as the sophomore netted a hat trick, including the game winning goal. AIC has a pair of goaltenders splitting time between the pipes. Junior Dan Ramirez has a .888 save percentage and 4.02 goals against average. Freshman Ben Meisner has had slightly better luck, earning four of the team’s five wins with a .908 save percentage and 3.33 goals against average. AIC needs one win to surpass their total from last year.
Plenty Of Firepower... Sacred Heart currently leads the AHA and ranks seventh in the nation scoring 3.57 goals per game. Nick Johnson leads the nation with 22 goals this season while Dave Jarman (Toronto, ON) ranks first in the AHA and second in the nation with 30 assists. Jarman trails just James Marcou of UMass who has 32 helper this season. Sacred Heart has not been shutout in the 2009-10 season and have scored at least five goals nine times this season.
Chance at 100... Seniors Nick Johnson and Erik Boisvert are having stellar senior seasons to approach the 100 point mark for their careers. Boisvert posted a goal and two assists against RIT and now has 95 points. Johnson also tallied three points in two games versus the Tigers and has 94 for his collegiate career. Sacred Heart has 6 games and post season play remaining.
In the Polls... For the second straight week Sacred Heart received votes in the USCHO division I poll. The Pioneers received 5 votes, more than Lake Superior St. and Minnesota.
Up Next... Sacred Heart takes on AHA rival Holy Cross next weekend for a home-and-home series.