Pioneers Earn Comeback Victory For First Atlantic Hockey Win

Pioneers Earn Comeback Victory For First Atlantic Hockey Win

BRIDGEPORT, Conn.— The Sacred Heart men's ice hockey earned its first Atlantic Hockey win of the season with a 6-2 victory over Canisius on Saturday afternoon. The Pioneers (3-5-0, 1-2-0 AHA) were down 2-1 in the second period before scoring five unanswered goals in the series opening win over the Golden Griffins (2-3-1, 2-3-0 AHA).

SHU tied a season-high six goals with six different scorers with Zach TsekosMel MelconianMarc JohnstoneJason CottonAlex Bates and Vito Bavaro finding the back of the net. The Pioneers registered five multi-point scorers with Bavaro pacing the way with his second three-point performance of the year on one goal and two assists.  Junior Brett Magnus registered 28 saves in goal for the Pioneers. 

Turning Point…

Both teams opened with an even first period on shot totals with 10 apiece. SHU struck first on Zach Tsekos goal before Canisius tied it up with less than five minutes to go in the period on Felix Chamberland's power play goal. The Golden Griffins put up a swift goal by Nick Hutchison to open the second. The Pioneers then went to work on the offensive zone putting up four unanswered goals in the second. Cotton & Bates scored within 38 seconds of each other at 13:02 in the period to put SHU well in front. Bavaro added the final goal of the game just 15 seconds into the third before Magnus stopped all 14 shots on goal in the final period to hold the final at 6-2. 

How They Scored… 

11:42 – 1st Period: SHU 1, Canisius 0: The Pioneers worked the puck into the Golden Griffins zone, Bavaro timed up the shot but was denied by Daniel Urbani. Mike Crocock intercepted the Canisius clear attempt along the halfwall and sent the feed to Tsekos. The sophomore ripped a one timer at the doorstep for his third goal of the season.

15:35 – 1st Period: SHU 1, Canisius 1: The Golden Griffs had the power play opportunity late in the first period, Jimmy Mazza timed up the shot from the top of the slot. Ryan Schmelzer was there to collect the rebound and dished the puck to Chamberland to bury the goal in front of the net. 

1:03 – 2nd Period: Canisius 2, SHU 1: SHU turned the puck over in the Canisius zone with Jeff Murray there to collect the puck, he then drove deep into the Pioneers zone. He found Hutchison on the trail, the forward then slipped past a Pioneers defender and snuck the puck past Magnus' glove side to give Canisius the lead.

2:38 – 2nd Period: SHU 2, Canisius 2: The Pioneers caused the Golden Griffins turnover as Stephen Hladin poke checked the puck away in the Canisius zone. He fed the pass to Melconian who skated into the slot and fired a wrist shot past Urbani's blocker side for his first collegiate goal. 

6:04 –  2nd Period: SHU 3, Canisius 2: SHU was able to work the puck in transition as Bates fed the pass up to McIlmurray in the neutral zone. The sophomore found Johnstone on the breakaway as he put a deke on Urbani and slipped the puck in for the Pioneers lead.

12:24 – 2nd Period: SHU 4, Canisius 2: The Pioneers on the attack on the man advantage after a Canisius boarding penalty. Bavaro worked the puck from the backboard to Tsekos on the left side. Tsekos then pushed the pass back to Cotton inside the left circle for the laser of a wrist shot & eventual game winner. 

13:02 – 2nd Period: SHU 5, Canisius 2: Sacred Heart didn't let up the possession, earning the faceoff win off Cotton's goal. The redshirt sophomore picked up the Golden Griffins turnover that was poked away by Tugnutt along the halfwall. He found Bates driving to the slot and the rookie flipped the backhanded shot up and over Urbani for his second goal of the season. 

0:15 – 3rd Period: SHU 6, Canisius 2: After the Golden Griffins won the opening draw, Ruslan Rakhmatov kicked away the puck on the rush out to Johnstone. The rookie pushed the puck ahead to Bavaro who then used his speed to create separation then fired a wrist shot past Urbani for his sixth goal of the season. 

Key Stats & Notes…

  • 11 Pioneers registered a point on the game, a new team season-high after eight different Pioneers picked up a point in SHU's 6-4 win over Notre Dame.
  • Bavaro registered a goal & assist in back-to-back games. He picked up his second three-point showing of the season as well.
  • Johnstone picked up his second multi-point game in the last three contests. He has also registered a point in three straight games.
  • Bates & Tsekos also recorded their second multi-point games of the season while Cotton recorded the first of his career. 
  • Melconian is the fifth rookie to record his first collegiate goal this season & the eighth to register his first collegiate point. 

Up Next…

The Pioneers & Golden Griffins wrap up the regular season series tomorrow at Webster Bank Arena. Puck drop is set for 2:05 p.m.