February 22, 2007

Pioneers Close Out Regular Season Against Army

Feb. 22, 2007

Setting the Scene... The Pioneers and Army meet on the final weekend of the regular season, with playoff positioning still at stake. Sacred Heart is coming off a weekend sweep of Holy Cross while Army took a pair of games from Bentley last weekend. SHU leads Army by three points for the top seed in the playoffs. The Pioneers need one point in this series to clinch the number one seed in the AHA playoffs. The series opener is set for Friday night at Tate Rink with the rematch Saturday night in Milford. Face-off both nights is set for 7:00 pm, with SHU Senior Night Festivities preceding Saturday's game.

The Series... The Pioneers and Black Knights have played to two draws already this year. In the second game of the season the teams skated to a 2-2 draw at Tate Rink. The Black Knights staged a third period comeback in Milford in November to grab a point. Sacred Heart leads the all-time series with Army 16-9-2.

Last Time Out... The Pioneers swept a weekend series from Holy Cross, winning in Worcester 5-4 and in Milford 4-1. The victories completed a series sweep of the Lakers for the Pioneers. SHU has won six straight games against Holy Cross. Senior Peter Ferraro had a goal and two assists to lead the Pioneer offense. Jason Smith recorded his 36th career win in goal Saturday night, tying the school record for wins in a career by a goaltender. The Pioneers have now won four straight and six of their last eight games.

Scouting the Black Knights... The Black Knights of Army have had one of the most successful years in school history, posting a record of 14-10- 5 and a 14-7-5 mark in league play. Army swept Bentley in West Point last weekend, and is unbeaten in six of its last seven games, going 4-0-2. The Knights trail Sacred Heart by three points for the top seed in the AHA playoffs. Sophomore goaltender Josh Kassel has been the Black Knight's MVP, posting a league-best 2.24 goals against average with a 9.16 save percentage in 27 games between the pipes. Junior Lule Flicek leads Army offensively with 12 goals, 18 assists and 30 points. Sophomore Tim Manthey provides the spark from the blueline, tallying 24 points with seven goals and 17 assists on the year. On special teams, Army's power play has struggled to a 14 percent conversion rate, while their penalty kill has been excellent, working to an 84 percent rate.

Up Next... The Pioneers open the Atlantic Hockey playoffs Saturday March 10th at the Milford Ice Pavilion. Face-off is 7:00 pm.