ERIE, Pa.— The Sacred Heart men's ice hockey team dropped the series opener to Mercyhurst 3-2 in overtime at the Mercyhurst Ice Center on Friday night. Les Lancaster registered the game winner for the Lakers (6-5-2, 3-2-2 AHA) against the Pioneers (3-10-2, 1-7-2 AHA) with 39 seconds to in the extra period.
The Pioneers earned two goals in the first period as Jason Cotton and Stephen Hladin registered their sixth and fourth goal respectively. Junior co-captain Liam Clare and freshmen Matt Tugnutt & Jordan Kaplan registered assists. Junior Brett Magnus recorded 28 assists in the start in goal for SHU.
The Pioneers continued its streak of netting the first goal of the game for the fourth straight contest with Cotton's shorthanded goal at 7:56 in the first period. SHU doubled up with Hladin's goal at 12:07 in the first. The Lakers got on the board at 13:33 on a goal by Jack Riley.
Both teams skated to a scoreless second period with SHU outshooting Mercyhurst 12-10 in the frame. SHU continued to hold the lead for a majority of the final period with Magnus turning away several Mercyhurst shots on net.
SHU drew a pivotal interference call with 1:37 to in regulation to earn the power play opportunity. Mercyhurst's penalty kill applied the pressure and worked the Pioneers back into their defensive zone. Tyler Ennis caused the turnover and dished it to Derek Barach who fed the puck to Taylor Best for the shorthanded extra attacker goal with 17 seconds remaining in regulation.
The power play chances continued through the first 2:30 of overtime but the Pioneers were unable to capitalize on Lakers goaltender Brandon Wildung. Mercyhurst and its Atlantic Hockey leading power play unit earned a power play at 3:54 and worked the puck in the SHU zone before Lancaster timed up the shot from the right point with 39 seconds remaining.
How They Scored…
7:56 – 1st Period: SHU 1, Mercyhurst 0: On the SHU penalty kill, Tugnutt drove the puck into the Mercyhurst zone after a failed chance by the Lakers. The rookie dumped the puck to Cotton on the trail as the sophomore ripped a wrist shot from just outside the right circle. The goal was Pioneers second shorthanded goal of the season.
12:07 – 1st Period: SHU 2, Mercyhurst 0: The Pioneers continued to control the offensive pressure in the first period, co-captain Clare drove the puck into the Lakers zone and sauced a cross-ice feed to Hladin on the right side. The junior fired a shot past Wildung's blocker side to give SHU the two-goal advantage.
13:33 – 1st Period: SHU 2, Mercyhurst 1: The Lakers picked up the puck in the neutral zone as Jonathan Charbonneau collected the puck from Jack Riley. Charbonneau dumped the puck into the SHU zone, as Riley used his speed to collect the puck off the bounce along the back wall. He slid the puck past Magnus' left pad to get Mercyhurst on the board.
19:43 – 3rd Period: SHU 2, Mercyhurst 2: The Lakers were put on the penalty kill with 1:37 to go in regulation. The penalty kill unit forced the Pioneers to back into its own defensive zone. Ennis picked up the turnover ahead to Barach behind the net. He then fed the puck to Best who chipped in the puck for the tying goal.
4:20 – Overtime: Mercyhurst 3, SHU 2: On the power play opportunity, the Lakers worked the puck through the Pioneers zone along the perimeter. Zach Todd fed the pass to Lancaster at the right point. He fired a slap shot through the screen, going top shelf for the game winner.
Key Stats & Notes…
- It is the first overtime loss for SHU since its double overtime 3-2 loss to Bentley on March 5, 2017 in the Atlantic Hockey first round.
- Both teams picked up shorthanded goals in the contest.
- Hladin's goal was his fifth point in the last six games. He has scored three goals in that span.
The Pioneers wrap up the season series with the Lakers tomorrow night at the Mercyhurst Ice Center with a 7:05 p.m. start.