February 26, 2011

Pioneers Win Regular Season Finale Over Army, 5-1 at the Arena

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. – A three-goal outburst in the third period sealed a 5-1 Atlantic Hockey win for the Sacred Heart University men's ice hockey team over Army at the Arena at Harbor Yard, Saturday afternoon.  For the Pioneers, it was just their fifth win of the season as they end the regular season 5-23-6 overall and 5-16-6 in league play, while the Black Knights dropped to 11-19-4 and 10-13-4.

The offensive explosion began just 1:40 into the third as senior forward David Berube (Quebec, Que.) blindly sent a pass from the left corner out in front for sophomore Kyle Verbeek (Bloomfield, Minn.) who knocked in his fifth score of the year to give SHU a 3-1 lead.  Less than a minute later, sophomore forward Eric Delong (Oakville, Man.) played the puck from behind the net for junior linemate Matt Gingera (Winnipeg, Man.) who finished the play with a stuff shot for his 16th of the season.

Sacred Heart iced the victory when Delong netted his second of the day, off a feed from freshman Dom Jancaterino (Needham, Mass.).  For the Pioneers, the five-goal effort equaled a season-high.

Berube nearly scored on a shorthanded opportunity with eight minutes left in the first.  With Army on the power play, freshman Chad Filtea (Regina, Sask.) stole the puck and sent a pass through the goal mouth to Berube, who a shot on an open net, but was robber by a quick kick save from Black Knights senior goalie Jay Clark.

SHU and Army continued to play a fast paced, but even first period until the Black Knights went on their second power play of the afternoon.  Junior Bryant Skarda snuck a shot through heavy traffic in front of the Pioneer net to go up 1-0 with 50 seconds left in the frame.  Sacred Heart pulled even on sophomore forward Delong's eighth score of the year with only 21 seconds remaining.

On the power play, with just under five minutes to play in the second, Pioneer sophomore defenseman Mitchell Stretch (Saskatoon, Sask.) blasted a shot on net and freshman forward Torin Snydeman (Groton, Mass.) found the rebound and smashed it off the post.  At the 2:44 mark, Delong made a move into the zone, but has the puck poked of his stick.  Junior forward Matt Gingera (Winnipeg, Man.) picked up the loose puck and fired a shot on net that beat Clark to the right side for his team-leading 15th goal of the season.

Senior goaltender Olivier St. Onge (Wickham, Que.) got the nod in goal and was spectacular, giving up just the one goal and providing 36 saves.  In net for Army, senior Jay Clark stopped 30 shots.

It was the final home games for seniors Evan Mladenoff (Leawood, Kan.), Patrick Knowlton (Colorado Springs, Colo.), Chris Brown (Raleigh, N.C.), Berube, and St. Onge.

Next weekend, the Pioneers will be on the road for the first round of the AHA playoffs as they travel to either Bentley or Army on March 5.

Sacred Heart finished the season 3-1-1 at the Arena at Harbor Yard.