FAIRFIELD, Conn.- The Sacred Heart Men's Ice Hockey hits returns home Thursday night to kick-off a home-and-home matchup against Holy Cross. Puck-drop is set for 7:05 p.m. Thursday at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport while the Pioneers will head to Worcester, Mass. the next day to take on the Crusaders for another 7:05 p.m. start.
Last Time Out... The Pioneers swept a two-game series at RIT this past week as the Pioneers lit up the Tigers with nine goals in the opening game with junior Jordan Kaplan and senior Vito Bavaro each racking up two goals to propel SHU to a 9-5 victory. In the second game, senior Jason Cotton continued his impressive season talling two goals one on the power-play and one short-handed to up his season total to nine on the year and to push SHU to a 3-1 win and the weekend sweep.
Last Meeting... The Pioneers split a two-game home-and-home against Holy Cross on Nov. 7-8 as SHU fell in the first game at Webster Bank Arena by a final score of 2-1 while prevailing in the away match the following day with a 4-2 victory. Senior Austin McIlmurray tallied two goals in the win including his fifth power-play goal of the season. Senior Vito Bavaro's clutch third period goal to take a 4-0 lead prevented the Crusaders from a comeback even as they tallied two goals in the final period to result in the SHU 4-2 victory.
Scouting The Crusdaers... Holy Cross is coming off a pair of games at Atlantic Hockey rival Army West Point as they dropped both games of the series 4-1, and 3-1 on Nov. 15-16. Leading the Crusaders is sophomore Conner Jean who currently has four goals on the season while senior forward Neil Robinson leads the team in points with seven consisting of five assists and two goals. Guarding the net for Holy Cross is freshman Matt Radomsky who has played in seven games in net and currently has a GAA of 2.65 with a save percentage of .908 and an overall record of 2-3-2.
Lee and Tuck Clutch in Assists... Senior Mike Lee and first-year Braeden Tuck sit a top Atlantic Hockey in assists both tallying 11 so far on the year. Lee is just four assists short of his career high of 15 which he tallied last year. Tuck on the other hand claims the top spot in the league in power-play points (9) and freshman scoring with 12 points on the year.
Goals Aren't a Problem... The Pioneers as a team fired off a total of 12 goals in the two games against RIT this past week. SHU currently leads Atlantic Hockey in scoring offense as SHU tallies an average of 3.67 goals per game. The Pioneers have not been shut-out once this season and have a minimum scored two goals in each game this year.
Cotton Paving the Way... Senior Jason Cotton tallied three goals this weekend against RIT including two in the Pioneers 3-1 victory over the Tigers in the second game of the two-game set. Cotton cashed in a power-play goal as well as his third short-handed goal of the year which now leads the nation overall. Cotton currently leads Atlantic Hockey in goals with nine on the year while
Seniors Shining.....This years senior class that consists of Mike Lee, Jason Cotton, Austin McIlmurray and Vito Bavaro currently lead all the classes in points and goals as the seniors have generated 46 points off 24 goals and 22 assists. Out of the group Jason Cotton leads the way with nine goals and four assists for 13 points.
Pios Leading the Nation.... Heading into this weeks games, the Pioneers claim top spots in different statistical categories in the national stats. Senior Austin McIlmurray is second in the nation in power-play goals with six on the year, while senior Jason Cotton leads the nation in short-handed goals with three. The Pioneers as a team are in the top ten in nation in scoring offense as well sitting ninth with an average of 3.67 goals per game.
Luukko and Tugnutt Tabbed Assistant Captains.... Junior Matt Tugnutt and senior Max Luukko were named the teams assistant captains on Saturday by head coach CJ Marottolo. Tugnutt is currently on track for a career year as he has recorded six goals on five assists for 11 points. He is just three goals off his career high nine that he tallied last season. Luukko has been a strong defensive player for the Pioneers as he has already had a career season recording his first collegiate goal coming on Nov. 2 against Air Force. Luukko has currently one goal and three assists for four points on the year in the 12 games he has played in.