Setting the Scene... The Pioneers travel to Air Force for the best-of-three Quarterfinals against the #2 seeded Falcons this weekend in the Atlantic Hockey Tournament. Sacred Heart advanced with a thrilling 6-3 third-period comeback against Bentley in Round One.
Game Coverage...Video and audio will be available at www.SacredHeartPioneers.com by following the video/audio links on the men's hockey schedule page. Randy Brochu and Brendan Flynn have the call.
About the Pioneers...Junior winger Matt Gingera (19-8-27) leads the team in goals, while sophomore center Eric Delong (9-20-29) leads the team in points and assists. Senior captain Patrick Knowlton (6-18-24), senior forward David Berube (8-11-19), and sophomore winger Ben Ketchum (6-12-18) have all had productive seasons as well. Senior assistant captain Evan "Chip" Mladenoff is second on the team in goals with 11.
Scouting the Falcons...Air Force finished the regular season on a four-game winning streak to earn the number two seed in the Atlantic Hockey Tournament. The Falcons seek to return to the Semifinals for the fourth straight year, having won the tournament three straight seasons from 2007-09. Jacques Lamoureux (18-19-37) leads the team in goals and points, while Derrick Burnett (8-24-32) leads the team in assists. They also have the AHA's best power play (25%) and are the least penalized team in the conference (9.2%)
Last Time They Met...Sacred Heart took three of four points in Connecticut Jan.7-8 against Air Force, tying them 5-5 in Milford and beating them 4-2 at Webster Bank Arena. David Berube had two goals in the win on Saturday afternoon. The Pioneers nearly made it a clean sweep, but Jacques Lamoureux tied the game with 0.6 seconds remaining in regulation in Friday's game to earn Air Force a point. SHU is the only team Air Force has not beaten this year.
Rivalry Renewed...Sacred Heart and Air Force clash in the Atlantic Hockey Tournament for the fourth time in the past five years. Last year, SHU got the better of the Falcons, winning 2-1 on Patrick Knowlton's goal with 42 seconds remaining in the Semifinals. Jacques Lamoureux had tied the game with the Air Force net empty with 1:29 left in regulation. The season before, Air Force defeated SHU two-games-to-one in the Quarterfinals en route to winning their third straight conference championship. In the 2007 Semifinals, the Pioneers came back from a 3-1 third period deficit to tie. However, Billy Devoney tied the game with less than a minute remaining and the goalie pulled, and Josh Print won it in OT 5-4.
All-Time vs. Air Force..SHU is 6-13-4 all-time against Air Force, including a 1-0-1 mark this year. In post-season play, the Pioneers are 2-3 in their playoff history with the Falcons. At Cadet Ice Arena, Sacred Heart is 1-8-2 all time - their one win a 4-1 victory facing elimination in Game Two of the 2009 Quarterfinals.
Last Time Out...Down 3-1 in the third, the Pioneers reeled off five unanswered goals to beat Bentley 6-3 in Round One. After Evan Mladenoff scored his second of the game 7:54 into the third to make it 3-2, Matt Gingera began work on SHU's first hat trick of the season with the game-tying goal at 10:41. Just nine seconds later, Ben Ketchum scored the game-winning goal off the ensuing face off to stun the Falcons. Gingera added two insurance goals, and Olivier St. Onge stopped all 15 shots in the third for a total of 42 in the win.
Gingera Named AHA Player of the Week...Matt Gingera was named AHA Player of the Week 3/5 for his third period hat trick against Bentley Saturday night. He now leads the team with a career-high 19 goals, seven better than the 12 he scored as a freshman. He is finishing strong as well, registering multi-goal games in three of the Pioneers' last four contests for a total of seven goals in that time.
St. Onge is On...Senior Olivier St. Onge has won back-to-back games and has been named to the Hockey Honor Roll two weeks in a row. Last weekend, he made 42 saves in SHU's 6-3 comeback over Bentley. The weekend before, he stopped 36 Army shots in a 5-1 win on Senior Day.
Streaking at the Right Time...Matt Gingera has a goal in seven of his last nine games, as well as ten goals in his last eight games...Eric Delong has six points in the last two games, while Torin Snydeman has five in his last two...Steven Legatto has made 35 saves or more in his past four games.
Let's Play Three...After struggling through much of the season with late-game play, Sacred Heart has improved closing out games of late. In their last two games, SHU has outscored their opponent 8-0 in the final period. Previously this season, SHU lost leads in all six of their ties, the In five of those six ties, SHU held a lead in the third period. Sacred Heart lost the lead against Air Force with less than one second left in the third. Against RIT and Robert Morris, SHU led in the final minute of play.
Up Next...With a series win against Air Force, Sacred Heart would advance to the Atlantic Hockey Semifinals for the second straight year. Because #12 seeded AIC is the lowest seeded team still alive, #11 seeded Sacred Heart could face any of the remaining teams to advance except for the Yellow Jackets.