WATERTOWN, Mass. – The Sacred Heart men's hockey team completed a season sweep of the Bentley Falcons Saturday night, winning 5-2 at the John A. Ryan Skating Arena. The Pioneers earned their second weekend sweep of the season, beating the second-place team in Atlantic Hockey three times this year.
Alex Vazzano (Trumbull, Conn.) was on his game early, making three saves in the first five minutes as Bentley (16-12-4, 14-7-4 AHA) controlled puck possession. Sacred Heart (11-21-0, 10-15-0 AHA) scored first as Jordan Minello (Sweaburg, Ont.) scored his ninth goal of the season with 13:14 remaining in the opening period. Minello fired a Justin Danforth (Oshawa, Ont.) pass high over Branden Komm's glove and into the back of the net, making the score 1-0. Jeff Carroll (Kingston, Ont.) also had an assist on the Pioneers' opening goal, extending his point-scoring streak to eight games.
Ben Lake (Calgary, Alb.) extended the Sacred Heart lead to two with 53 seconds left in the first. Fresh off a stint in the penalty box, Lake scored from the slot from Drew George (Regina, Sask.) to make the score 2-0. The Pioneers took that lead into the first intermission as Vazzano made 15 saves in the first period.
Sacred Heart extended its lead to 3-0 4:02 into the second period. Brian Sheehan (St. Louis, Mo.) scored a power play goal from a tough angle, with assists from Spencer Graboski (Quesnel, B.C.) and Erlich Doerksen (Toronto, Ont.). Bentley got on the scoreboard with 9:27 remaining in the middle frame. With Minello in the penalty box, the Falcons scored a power play goal as Andrew Gladiuk made the score 3-1. The Pioneers went back on the power play with 6:41 remaining, but were held without a shot. Alex Grieve got Bentley within a goal with 1:31 left in the second period. Grieve put a Gladiuk pass past Vazzano's blocker and in on the power play, getting the Falcons within a goal, 3-2, heading into the third period.
Bentley let loose a barrage of shots in the third period, attempting to get back in the game. At one point in the period, the Falcons fired 14 straight shots. Ten of those 14 were either blocked or saved by Vazzano. Derek Bacon had a chance to tie the game with 12:04 remaining, but his shot on a 2-on-1 breakaway was snagged by the glove of Vazzano. Jake Lynes (Ellicott City, Md.) put the game away with 8:47 to play, firing a laser past Bentley goalie Blake Dougherty to make the score 4-2. Graboski tacked on an empty net goal in the final minute to make the final score 5-2.
Sacred Heart has now beaten the Falcons four times in a row and are unbeaten in their last five meetings with Bentley. The win is only the second for the Pioneers on Saturday this season. Graboski had a season-high three points, as Sheehan and George each had two points in the game. The Falcons outshot the Pioneers 38-27 for the game, with Vazzano making 36 saves for Sacred Heart. Sacred Heart moves into ninth place in Atlantic Hockey with 20 points, and is three points behind Holy Cross for eighth place with two games remaining in the regular season.
The Pioneers wrap up the regular season next weekend with a pair of games against UConn at Milford Ice Pavilion. The series opens on Friday, Feb. 28 at 7:05 p.m. with Senior Day coming on March 1 at 5:05 p.m.