Sacred Heart Enters Final Four Of Atlantic Hockey Tournament
March 18, 2010
Setting the Scene... Sacred Heart enters the final four of the Atlantic Hockey Tournament just two wins away from the school’s first ever conference championship. The Pioneers will have to play its way through Air Force in the semifinals Friday night at 7:05 pm before potentially taking on the winner of RIT and Canisius Saturday in the championship game. SHU earned its spot in the final four with a sweep of Holy Cross in the quarterfinals last weekend. The Pioneers shutout the Crusaders 4-0 Friday night before earning a dramatic 4-3 victory in overtime Saturday.
Playoff History... Sacred Heart holds a 9-12 record in its postseason history at the division I level. The Pioneers are 8-8 all-time in the Atlantic Hockey tournament: 7-5 in the quarterfinals, 1-1 in semifinals, and 0-1 in their only championship appearance. SHU also lost the conference’s only “final five” game two years ago. Sacred Heart and Air Force met in the quarterfinals of last years tournament in Colorado Springs, CO. The Falcons, who went on to become tournament champions, needed all three games to dispatch the Pioneers in a heated series. SHU has never crossed paths with either RIT or Canisius in Atlantic Hockey postseason play. Holy Cross defeated Sacred Heart 4-0 in the 2004 AHA championship in the Pioneers lone appearance in the title game. The Pioneers also posted a 1-4 playoff mark when competing in the MAAC in 1999-2003.
Sweeping Holy Cross... The Pioneers find themselves in Rochester, NY with a chacne to win a conference title thanks to a sweep of Holy Cross in a series that had a little bit of everything. The Pioneers shutout the seventh seeded Crusaders Friday night in a 4-0 victory in which both teams took 36 shots on goal. Nick Johnson got his NCAA leading eighth game winning goal and Steven Legatto earned his second shutout of the season. Saturday night saw the two teams needing an extra period to decide a winner. Just 4:53 into overtime the game found the hero it needed. Matt Gingera deflected in the game winner as Patrick Knowlton flipped a shot towards the net, following a successful SHU penalty kill.
Making History... Seniors Nick Johnson (Windsor, CT) and Dave Jarman (Toronto, ON) have become one of the most dangerous pairs in all of college hockey. Johnson leads the AHA in goals with 27, currently tying him for tops in the NCAA with Bobby Butler of UNH. Johnson has rewritten the SHU record books in his senior year. He holds the record for goals in a single season, previously Aaron Foust (23), and points in one season surpassing Pierre Luc-O’Brien’s 50. Jarman leads Atlantic Hockey and ranks fourth in the nation with 35 assists this season. He has smashed the SHU single season record, which was previously held by Pierre-Luc O’Brien (31). Jarman is the Pioneers active scoring leader with 137 points (47 goals and 86 assists) in his time at SHU. He ranks fourth on SHU’s all time point list behind O’Brien (158), Martin Paquet (142), and Alexandre Parent (141).
Delong Delivers... Freshman Eric Delong leads all Atlantic Hockey rookies this season with 33 points on 14 goals and 19 assists. He tallied one goal and two assists in the Pioneers playoff sweep of the Crusaders. The freshman has posted nine multi-point performances this year and has recorded at least point in eight of SHU’s last nine games.
Plenty Of Firepower... Sacred Heart currently leads the AHA and ranks fifth in the nation scoring 3.57 goals per game. The Pioeners put up four goals in each of their quarterfinal games against Holy Cross. Sacred Heart has not been shutout in the 2009-10 campaign and has scored at least five goals on ten occasions this season.
Legatto’s Stellar Debut... Steven Legatto made his postseason debut last Friday night against Holy Cross a 36 save shutout. It was the freshman’s second shoutout of the season as he has developed into the Pioneers #1 goaltender.
Up Next... The winner of the Atlantic Hockey tournament will earn the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. Last year Air Force won the AHA’s bid and was a double overtime goal away from advancing to the Frozen Four.