WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Taking the ice for the first time in almost two weeks, the Sacred Heart men's hockey team fell 4-0 Friday night to the American International Yellow Jackets at the Olympia Ice Center. The game opened a home-and-home weekend series between the Pioneers and AIC.
Sacred Heart (0-25-2, 0-18-2 Atlantic Hockey) had a couple chances early to strike first. Nick Curry (Augusta, Ga.) had a shot off of a faceoff stopped by AIC (8-14-5, 5-11-5) goaltender Ben Meisner with 15:30 remaining in the opening period. Forty-five seconds later, Ben Lake (Calgary, AB) deflected a Josh Phillips (Toronto, ON) shot that went off Meisner's blocker. The Yellow Jackets then controlled play in the Pioneers' zone, with Steven Legatto (Kelowna, BC) having to make four saves to keep the game scoreless.
The Pioneers had a great chance to score with 7:02 to play in the period as Sacred Heart had a 3-on-2 as AIC was making a line change. Chad Filteau (Regina, SK) took a shot from the slot but Meisner was equal to the task. AIC had an opportunity to take the lead with 4:19 to play in the first when Filteau was penalized for tripping. Sacred Heart killed off the penalty, but the Yellow Jackets' persistent play in the Pioneers zone paid off with 1:40 to go. Jason Popek put a Nathan Sliwinski feed just past Legatto and over the goal line to give AIC a 1-0 lead before intermission.
Sacred Heart had two chances on the power play in the second period to tie the game. The Pioneers' first extra-man opportunity came with 17:41 to play when Brandon Fagerheim was called for interference. Sacred Heart had five shots on the power play, but only two on goal as AIC killed off its penalty. Lake and Tommy Castonguay (Rimouski, QC) each had a pair of shots stopped by Meisner halfway through the period. Sacred Heart's second power play came at the 6:46 mark, but the Pioneers only had two chances go on net. The game then changed in AIC's favor when Jared Eng (North Vancouver, BC) was given a five-minute major for hitting from behind at the 4:34 mark. The Yellow Jackets scored two power play goals late in the period to take a 3-0 lead at the second intermission.
The two teams will wrap up their weekend series Saturday night at 7:05 p.m. at the Milford Ice Pavilion.