NIAGARA UNIVERSITY, N.Y.— The Sacred Heart University men's hockey team's offense buried a season-high seven goals in the 7-1 series opening win over Niagara University on Friday night.
The Pioneers (8-16-4, 6-12-4 AHA) netted three shorthanded goals in the barrage over the Purple Eagles (11-17-3, 10-12-3 AHA) at Dwyer Arena.
Senior Kory Kennedy and junior Jackson Barliant led the Pioneers offense, each lighting the lamp twice in the team's first appearance at Dwyer since 2012. Freshman Jordan Kaplan along with sophomores Austin McIlmurray and Jason Cotton also scored for SHU.
Kennedy led the 11 SHU skaters on the scoresheet with a career-high four points on his two scores and two assists. Junior Co-captain Liam Clare recorded his second playmaker of the season with his three assists. Junior goaltender Brett Magnus recorded 18 saves in his eighth win of the season.
The Pioneers opened the scoring just over the halfway mark in the first period as Barliant chipped in the rebound goal at 11:00. SHU had the 5-on-3 power play chance late in the period but were unable to light the lamp for the second time in the first, outshooting the Purple Eagles 8-2.
SHU took advantage with its stellar penalty kill in the second period as Kaplan buried shorthanded breakaway. The lead grew for the Pioneers in the tail end of the second as McIlmurray buried the one-timer at 18:45.
Cotton extended the SHU lead to 4-0 on his 12th goal of the season. The Purple Eagles got on the board shortly after with the power play goal by Kris Spriggs but the Pioneers didn't let up ending the game with three straight goals. Barliant and Kennedy buried back-to-back shorthanded goals at the halfway mark before the senior capped the night with his second goal at 11:31.
How They Scored...
11:00 – 1st Period: SHU 1, Niagara 0: The Pioneers worked the puck in the Purple Eagles zone just over the halfway mark. Clare swung the puck over to Lloyd at the left point. The sophomore lined up the slap shot that was knocked down by Therien. Barliant was at the doorstep to knock in the puck out of mid-air to open the scoring.
7:39 – 2nd Period: SHU 2, Niagara 0: On the penalty kill, Kennedy broke up the Niagara attack dishing the puck ahead to Clare. The co-captain found Kaplan in the neutral zone on the breakaway chance. The rookie drove in the puck on the breakaway behind the Purple Eagles net. He got Therien to bite on the fake, drawing him out of the goal to bury the wrap-around goal past the netminder for the shorthanded score.
18:45 – 2nd Period: SHU 3, Niagara 0: On the four-on-four chance in the tail end of the second period, the Pioneers continued to circle the puck in the Niagara end. Clare got the pass at the top of the point from Marc Johnstone. He found McIlmurray all along at the near side circle, the sophomore fired a booming one-timer top shelf to beat Therien blocker side.
1:51 – 3rd Period: SHU 4, Niagara 0: The Pioneers worked on the major power play from the tail end of the opening period. On the rush, Cotton buried the rebound goal in the open net from the initial shot by Matt Tugnutt.
3:35 – 3rd Period: SHU 4, Niagara 1: The Purple Eagles finally got on the board with the four-on-three power play chance in the third period. Spriggs was there to bury home the goal on the assist from Noah Delmas.
7:45 – 3rd Period: SHU 5, Niagara 1: SHU was on the penalty kill once again in the third period as they caused the Niagara turnover in the neutral zone. Barliant picked up the puck in the neutral zone with the breakaway chance. The junior beat Therien blocker side for the second Pioneer shorthanded goal.
10:08 – 3rd Period: SHU 6, Niagara 1: The Pioneers continued the pressure on the penalty kill yet again. Ruslan Rakhmatov picked up the puck in the defensive zone and sent the puck ahead to Zach Tsekos for the two-on-one breakaway. The sophomore fed the pass on the left side across ice to the charging Kennedy for the quick one-timer.
11:31 – 3rd Period: SHU 7, Niagara 1: After the Purple Eagles changed goaltenders, SHU continued to pressure in the offensive zone as Kennedy buried his second goal of the night off on the backhanded shot at the doorstep from Stephen Hladin.
Key Stats & Notes…
- Barliant netted his first multi-goal game & the second two-point game of his career.
- Kennedy's four-point night is a new career high and first two-goal game since Oct. 16, 2015 at UMass.
- With the three shorthanded goals tonight, SHU tied its season total from last season with six.
- Kennedy & Clare reached double-digit points mark for the season each reaching 11 points. The Pioneers now have 12 skaters with 10 or more points this season.
The Pioneers conclude the season series against Niagara tomorrow night at Dwyer Arena with a 7:05 p.m. start.