WATERTOWN, Mass.— The Sacred Heart men's ice hockey team pulled away with a 4-2 victory over Bentley on Tuesday night. The Pioneers (6-14-4, 4-10-4 AHA) earned the season series sweep over the Falcons (7-11-5, 4-9-4 AHA) in the final meeting between both teams at the John A. Ryan Skating Arena.
SHU pulled up a four-goal showing after downing Bentley 4-1 last Tuesday. Sophomores Vito Bavaro, Jason Cotton and Ruslan Rakhmatov along with freshman Matt Tugnutt found the back of the net in the victory.
Cotton and Tugnutt also registered assists along with sophomores Austin McIlmurray & Christian Lloyd. The SHU line of Tugnutt, Cotton & McIllmurray all picked up multiple points with the rookie leading the way with his first career three-point showing. Junior goaltender Brett Magnus was phenomenal in net for the Pioneers, stopping 40 shots in his sixth victory of the season.
Sacred Heart got off to a strong start in the first period with goals by Rakhmatov and Tugnutt. The Falcons pushed the puck on net in the opening frame with a 15-8 shot on goal advantage. Matt Sieckhaus finally got Bentley on the board with his rebound goal at 14:54 in the first.
SHU continued its offensive pressure in the second frame as Cotton registered his 10th goal of the season at 4:24 followed by Bavaro at the 10:19 mark to push the lead to 4-1. Bentley got a little life early in the final period as Matt Riggleman registered the shorthanded score at the 5:16 mark. The Pioneers penalty kill had strong night going 4-for-4 including killing two penalties in the third period. Magnus made nine big saves in the remainder of the third period to secure the win for SHU.
How They Scored…
4:31 - 1st Period: SHU 1, Bentley 0: The Pioneers got on the board early in transition as McIlmurray dished the pass to Rakhmatov in the neutral zone. The defenseman pulled up in the Falcons zone and fired the wrist shot past Argue's blocker side to open the scoring.
12:28 - 1st Period: SHU 2, Bentley 0: SHU continued its offensive pressure in the first period as Cotton fired a shot on net. Argue made the stop on the shot but the rebound went out to the middle of the slot as Tugnutt was there for the putback shot for his fifth goal of the year.
14:54 - 1st Period: SHU 2, Bentley 1: The Falcons offense finally got on the board in the tail end of the first period. Connor Brassard sent in a shot on goal from the right circle. Magnus made the stop but couldn't hold on to the puck as Sieckhaus was there at the doorstep for the rebound.
4:24 - 2nd Period: SHU 3, Bentley 1: The Pioneers kept the pressure on in the Bentley zone as the Falcons failed to clear the puck out. Tugnutt picked up the puck along the halfwall out to Cotton. The sophomore buried the puck in the middle of the slot to give SHU the two goal lead.
10:19 - 2nd Period: SHU 4, Bentley 1: SHU continued to control possession of the puck as Lloyd dumped it in to the Bentley zone from the blue line to set up the Pioneers attack. Bavaro picked up the puck along the end wall, he deked around the Falcons defense and rifled the puck top shelf past Argue for his 13th of the season.
5:16 - 3rd Period: SHU 4, Bentley 2: Riggleman picked up the turnover at the top of the point on the Pioneers power play. With the two-on-one rush, Riggleman took the play in himself as he beat Magnus glove side for the shorthanded score.
Key Stats & Notes…
- The Pioneers have won the last three regular season meetings against Bentley with the season sweep. SHU leads the all-time series 34-31-8 against the Falcons.
- Cotton became the second Pioneer to reach the 10-goal mark.
- Tugnutt & McIlmurray recorded their fourth & fifth multi-point game of the season respectively.
- Magnus registered his second highest save total of the season with his 40 saves.
- Lloyd recorded his first collegiate point on the second period helper.
The Pioneers will close out the month of January with a weekend series at Air Force beginning Friday, January 19 with a 9:05 p.m. ET puck drop from Cadet Ice Arena.