BRIDGEPORT, Conn.— The Sacred Heart men's ice hockey team earned its first win of the season with a 3-1 victory over in-state rival UConn in the home opener at Webster Bank Arena on Saturday night.
The Pioneers (1-2) downed the Huskies (2-2) for the fifth consecutive time dating back to March 1, 2014. Sophomore Austin McIlmurray and freshmen Matt Tugnutt & Alex Bates scored their first goals of the season for the Pioneers. The SHU assists came from six different players including first collegiate points for Josh Allan, Marcus Joseph & Hunter Fargey. SHU was outshot by the Huskies 45-22 on the night. Junior goaltender Brett Magnus registered a stellar 44 saves in goal for the Pioneers.
The Turning Point
The Huskies offensive attack that enter the game with a 4.7 goals per game average controlled the puck early with a 10 to zero shot favor through the opening 10 minutes of play. SHU responded with two first period scores by McIlmurray & Tugnutt. The second period score by Bates was the separation SHU needed. Adam Karashik picked up the Huskies goal near the end of the second frame. But Magnus was phenomenal between the pipes picking up 30 saves in the final two periods on the way to the first win of the 2017-18 season.
How They Scored….
1st Period – 11:05 – SHU 1, UConn 0. The Pioneers finally worked the puck deep in the offensive zone as the Huskies controlled the puck to start. Sophomore Zach Tsekos found Allan at the right point. The rookie narrowly connected on a one-timer, just a second ahead of the puck. Sophomore Austin McIlmurray was there to collect it and fire home the first goal of the game.
1st Period – 17:52 – SHU 2, UConn 0. Off the penalty kill, junior captain Mike Crocock forced the Huskies turnover. Sophomore Ruslan Rakhmatov fed the puck ahead to Tugnutt who used his speed to create some separation and fired a rocket to beat Huskies goaltender Adam Huska glove side for the score.
2nd Period – 8:11 – SHU 3, UConn 0: Sacred Heart continued the momentum from the opening period into the second as they worked the puck in the Huskies zone with a four-on-two rush. Fargey drove the puck into the zone to Joseph who then dished to Bates on the trail in the slot and beat Huska blocker side for the score.
2nd Period – 16:17— SHU 3, UConn 1: The Huskies offense continued to move the puck in the Pioneers zone. Alexander Payusov worked the puck to Karashik at the point and with the help from a screen by Maxim Letunov get the puck past Magnus.
Key Stats & Notes
- Eight of the nine points by the Pioneers were registered by underclassmen.
- Allan, Bates, Fargey, Joseph & Tugnutt all earned their first collegiate points.
- Joseph also was the lone Pioneer with a +2 rating.
- SHU has had UConn's number in five straight games, including four since the Huskies left for the Hockey East in 2014.
- Magnus registered his first game of 40 or more saves in a game since setting the school single season record with 64 stops against Penn State on November 14, 2015.
SHU will travel to No. 4 Notre Dame for a two-game series beginning Thursday, October 19 at 7:35 p.m.