WORCESTER, Mass.— The Sacred Heart men's ice hockey team was unable to hold a 5-2 lead in the final period eventually settling for a 5-5 tie against Holy Cross on Saturday night. The Pioneers (4-12-3, 3-8-3 AHA) used a five goal second period to take the early lead but couldn't hold on as the Crusaders (7-6-7, 6-2-6 AHA) tallied three goals in the third period, giving both teams at point in the Atlantic Hockey standings to end the 2017 calendar year.
Seven skaters registered a point for SHU with junior Liam Clare and sophomore Vito Bavaro leading the way with three points each. The Pioneers had four different goal scorers in sophomore Austin McIlmurray with two goals along with Bavaro, senior Kory Kennedy and freshman Jordan Kaplan. Junior goaltender Brett Magnus registered 33 saves in goal for the Pioneers.
The opening period featured back and forth play as both teams looked to find offensive footing. The Crusaders broke open the scoring for the second straight night with Phil Kessel's goal off the faceoff at 17:10.
SHU earned the momentum in the second period playing on the man advantage for opening nine minutes. After an unsuccessful opening two-minute power play, a major boarding penalty saw the Pioneers go to work with its top power play unit scoring two goals by McIlmurray & Bavaro. Another miscue by Holy Cross allowed McIlmurray to pick up his second goal at 8:29 in the period. The Crusaders scored on Michael Laffin's first goal of the night at 12:53 before SHU ended the frame with two more goals to take the 5-2 lead into the intermission.
Much of the third period was relatively quiet before Laffin opened the Crusaders run at 9:44 in the frame. The Crusaders assistant captain capped the hat trick just 1:38 later with the rebound goal to put the game at 5-4. The momentum fully shifted to Holy Cross as Scott Pooley tied things up at 18:07 with his league leading 16th goal. Both teams failed to find the back of the net as Holy Cross outshot the Pioneers 4-2 in extra time.
How They Scored…
17:10 – 1st Period: Holy Cross 1, SHU 0: With the faceoff in the Pioneers zone, Jay Mackie won the draw and knocked the puck off a SHU skate. Kessel collected the puck and fired home a shot from the middle of the slot late in the opening period.
3:30 – 2nd Period: SHU 1, Holy Cross 1: On the opening minutes of the major power play, Bavaro swung the puck ahead to Clare at the point. The captain sent on the wrist shot that was redirected by McIlmurray to tie the game early in the period.
6:04 – 2nd Period: SHU 2, Holy Cross 1: SHU took advantage once again on the major power play with the top unit working the puck in the Crusaders zone for nearly two minutes. Clare kept the Holy Cross clear attempt in the blue line and dished the puck to Bavaro who roofed the one-timer for his second goal of the series.
8:29 – 2nd Period: SHU 3, Holy Cross 1: The Pioneers continued to push the puck on the man advantage yet again in the second. McIlmurray collected the puck along the half board and pushed the puck to Clare. The co-captain pushed the puck down to Marc Johnstone down in the Holy Cross zone who then sauced a pass to the charging McIlmurray for the third power play score.
12:53 – 2nd Period: SHU 3, Holy Cross 2: The Crusaders kicked up its offensive tempo after spending much of the period skating a man down. Logan Ferguson fired the tape to tape pass out to Pooley who fired the shot in on goal. He chased his rebound and found Laffin open in the middle of the slot to snap the Pioneers three unanswered goals.
13:16 – 2nd Period: SHU 4, Holy Cross 2: Sacred Heart needed just 23 seconds to swing the momentum back on its side. Kennedy picked up the puck in the Pioneers zone and pushed the puck to Kaplan in the neutral zone. The rookie put on a couple dangles past the Crusaders defense and then buried a shot top shelf on Berrafato's blocker side.
15:59 – 2nd Period: SHU 5, Holy Cross 2: The Pioneers capped the strong second period with its fifth tally. Marcus Joseph collected the puck in the SHU zone, he tapered a pass out to Matt Tugnutt in the neutral zone. Tugnutt then fed a pass ahead to Kennedy inside the Holy Cross end as the senior laced a slapshot past Berrafato's glove for the 5-2 lead.
9:44 – 3rd Period: SHU 5, Holy Cross 3: Holy Cross went on a three-on-two rush just under halfway through the third period. Ferguson fired home a shot from the middle of the slot. Pooley was there on the left side and sent a backhanded shot on goal, Magnus made the initial stop but couldn't find the puck. Laffin was there to chip in his second goal of the game to bring the score to 5-3.
11:22 – 3rd Period: SHU 5, Holy Cross 4: The momentum continued to shift to the Crusaders late in the third period. Frank Boie sent a shot from the point that bounced off the back wall for Pooley to collect. Pooley then sent the puck in front of the net for Laffin to bury the open look and complete the hat trick.
18:07 – 3rd Period: SHU 5, Holy Cross 5: Holy Cross added another rush for its third straight goal as Peter Crinella brought the puck into the SHU zone. He fired the backhanded shot in but was denied by Magnus. Charlie Barrow attempted the rebound shot at the doorstep that was blocked away by Magnus. Pooley was there on the right side for the final putback to tie the game.
Key Stats & Notes…
- SHU's five goal second period was the most scored in a single period this season. The last time Sacred Heart scored five goals in a period was in the third period of a 6-3 win over AIC on October 23, 2016.
- The Pioneers scored three power play goals for the first time this season and first three power play goal showing since last season on November 18 against Niagara.
- Clare recorded his first career playmaker with his three assists on the night.
- Bavaro earned three points for the third time this season with his one goal and two helpers.
- McIlmurray registered a two-goal showing for the first time in his career on Saturday night.
The Pioneers will host Army West Point in the first collegiate hockey game at NYCB Live, home of Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Saturday, January 6. Tickets for the event can be purchased by calling the SHU Box Office at 203-396-TIXX (8499).