Setting the Scene…The Pioneers return to action on the road in Buffalo, NY for two Atlantic Hockey Association games against the Canisius Golden Griffins.
Game Coverage...Video and Audio of this weekend's games will be available at www.SacredHeartPioneers.com by following the video and audio links on the men's hockey schedule page.
About the Pioneers…Senior Matt Gingera leads SHU with nine goals. He and freshman Brian Sheehan are tied for the team lead with 14 points, followed by Eric Delong with 13 points. Ben Ketchum has contributed six goals and four assists for 10 points. Steven Legatto has seen the majority of time in net this year, making the fifth most saves in the AHA (532).
About the Golden Griffins…Canisius is coming off two losses last weekend at home against UConn, 6-2 and 4-3. Kyle Gibbons leads the team in scoring (8-10-18), followed by Taylor Law (7-10-17) and Ben Danford (1-9-10). The Golden Griffiths have the second worst penalty killing in the AHA (74.5%), better only than the Pioneers PK (70.3%). They also are second to last in scoring offense (1.86 gpg). Canisius earned an impressive 2-2 tie against #12 Lake Superior State earlier this season on 11/19 at home.
Gingera Closing in on 100…Pioneer assistant captain Matt Gingera has scored a team-best nine goals and is tied for the team lead with 14 points, putting him at 53 goals and 37 assists for 90 points in his career. He is now two behind fifth place (Garrett Larson-55) and three behind third place (Bear Trapp-56) on the all-time SHU hockey goals list. He is 10 points away from becoming the 11th player in Pioneer Hockey history to accumulate 100 points or more for a career.
All-Time Vs. Canisius...SHU is 17-17-5 all-time against Canisius. The Pioneers hosted the Golden Griffiths twice last year at the Milford Ice Pavilion, skating to a 3-3 tie on 10/23/10 after a 4-1 loss the night before. Tye Lewis scored his first collegiate goal in the tie. The last time the Pioneers traveled to Canisius, they tlost 5-1 on 1/31/09 after a 3-3 tie the night before. Matt Gingera, then a freshman, scored in the tie.
Last Time Out...Sacred Heart dropped two conference games Webster Bank Arena last weekend against RIT, falling 10-0 on Saturday afternoon and 3-0 on Sunday afternoon. The weekend shutout losses were the second time this season the Pioneers did not score a goal in a two-game weekend series, including opening weekend 9-0 and 6-0 losses at the University of Minnesota.
Pioneers Upset of #8 Yale 7-6…The Pioneers pulled off their greatest ever upset, beating # 8 Yale 7-6 Tuesday night, 11/22/11 at Webster Bank Arena. It marked the team's first win of the year. Chad Filteau lead SHU with two goals, including the game-winner with 4:14 left in the third period. Steven Legatto made 48 saves in net for the win.
Doubling Up...Six times this season, a Pioneer has scored twice in the same game. They are: Brian Sheehan, 10/25 at Bentley and 10/28 at AIC; Chad Filteau, 11/22 vs. Yale; Matt Gingera and Ben Ketchum, 11/26 vs. Niagara; Eric Delong, 12/3 vs. Robert Morris. No Pioneer has registered a hat trick this year, the last one coming from Gingera who scored three in a come-from-behind 6-3 win at Bentley in last season's AHA First Round Playoff game on 3/5/11.
And the Leaders are...Eric Delong, captain, and Matt Gingera and Chris Bailer, assistant captains. Delong played every game last season, has already racked up 65 points (24 G, 41 A), and continues to be one of the team's strongest defensive forwards. Gingera enjoyed a break-out junior season thanks to a strong finish, scoring nine goals in the final six games, including a third-period hat trick in SHU's win over Bentley in the First Round of the AHA Tournament. Bailer, a stay-at-home defenseman, is a shot-blocking specialist who commands the respect of his teammates with his willingness to sacrifice his body.
Return of the Mac...Reid MacLeod returned to the line-up for his first games of the season two weekends ago a Mercyhurst. The junior winger has registered seven goals and nine assists for 16 points in 40 career games. Freshman defenseman Jared Eng also returned to the line-up against Mercyhurst after missing all but two games first semester with an injury.
Returning Forwards...The Pioneers return seven forwards who registered double-digit points. Junior Ben Ketchum (6-12-18), a fast-skating right wing with a hard shot, picked up his point total down the stretch in his first season with SHU after transferring from Quinnipiac. Junior right wing Kyle Verbeek (6-6-12), the son of former NHL great Pat Verbeek, displayed a knack for going to the net for rebound goals. Sophomore right wing Torin Snydeman played his way onto the top line with Delong and Gingera with a strong finish (6 points in final 4 games). Senior center Anthony Yelovich (4-7-11) looks for a breakout season after three years of playing various roles. Sophomore center Chad Filteau (3-8-11) looks to keep developing his play-making ability in the middle.
Bruisin' on the Blue Line...The Pioneers have added depth on the blue line with the addition of two transfers and the return of a medical red shirt. Jordan Ciccarello joins SHU for his sophomore year after sitting out last season following his transfer from Clarkson. Will Rayner restarts his freshman year after transferring from UMASS-Lowell with a reputation of being a good open-ice hitter. After going down with an injury three games into last year, 6-5, 225-pounder Bryan Felice returns as a medical red shirt freshman. Freshman Jared Eng joins the defense core from Coquitlam of the BCHL, where he tallied 23 assists. They join return seniors Chris Bailer and Ryan Miniaci, juniors Alex Stuart and Mitchell Stretch, and sophomore Neil Fachini.
Freshman Orientation...The Pioneers added five freshman forwards this season: Ben Lake, Ryan Stanimir, Brian Sheehan, Chad Barthelmess, Drew George. Head Coach C.J. Marottolo provided a scouting report on his new recruits up front:
Lake comes to SHU known for being a fast, strong, two-way center who is very good in face offs. "He'll bring grit, intelligence, and speed," said Marottolo. The past two seasons for the Fort McMurray Oil Barons of the AJHL, he scored consistently. He followed up his 2009-10 scoring line of 24-27-51 in 58 games with a 2010-11 scoring line of 23-29-52 in 53 games.
Sheehan begins his collegiate career after tallying a line of 23-44-67 in 44 games for the Jersey Hitmen of the EJHL. "He is extremely skilled with a great, quick stick, said Marottolo. "We're looking for him to a point producer."
Barthelmess also come to SHU by way of the EJHL, after totaling 24-23-47 in 42 games for the Springfield Pics last year. "He is strong, fast, and can really shoot a puck," said Marottolo.
Stanimir looks to build on a season in the BCHL in which he produced nearly a point per game (20-35-55 in 56 games) for the Nanaimo Clippers. "He has a good stick, very good hockey IQ, and great offensive instincts," said Marottolo.
Drew George comes to the Pioneers by way of the Weyburn Red Wings of the SJHL, where he put up a scoring total of 21-36-57 in 47 games. "He is highly skilled, and a great play-maker who can make those around him better," said Marottolo.
In Net...Junior Steven Legatto and freshman Andrew Bodnarchuk are expected to see the majority of time in net. Legatto set the single-season school record with 19 wins in'08-'09 and played every minute of SHU's school record 12-game unbeaten streak that year. Bodnarchuk was the MVP of the SJHL with a 2.82 GAA and .916 save percentage for the Humboldt Broncos two seasons ago.
A Few Firsts...Brian Sheehan scored his first two goals against Bentley on 10/25, while Will Rayner, Ben Lake, and Drew George all scored their first career goals at Holy Cross 11/12.
Take it to the Bank... For the second straight season, the Pioneers will call Webster Bank Arena home for several regular season games. SHU is 4-4-2 in their first two seasons of home games at WBA, including an upset 7-6 win over #8 Yale this year. After playing five home contests at the 8,500-seat home of the AHL's Bridgeport Sound Tigers, SHU will play eight home games at Webster Bank Arena this season. SHU will play those home games in partnership with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, with the Pioneers' games either following or preceding a Sound Tigers home game as part of a single-admission ticket. SHU faces off later this season at 4:00 pm on February 4 against Bentley, February 11 against UCONN, and February 18 against Holy Cross. Webster Bank Arena is also the site of the NCAA Men's Hockey East Regional for the third time this season.
Up Next...Sacred Heart will play a home-and-home series with AIC next weekend, traveling to West Springfield, MA on Fri, 1/28 at 7:05, then hosting the Yellow Jackets on Sat., 1/29 at 7:05 in Milford, CT.