Pioneers Rally Late to Tie Air Force 3-3 In Series Opener

Pioneers Rally Late to Tie Air Force 3-3 In Series Opener

BRIDGEPORT, Conn.— The Sacred Heart men's hockey team rallied late in the third period thanks to two goals by freshman Marc Johnstone to force overtime, before skating to a 3-3 tie in the series opener against Air Force on Saturday afternoon. The Pioneers (3-8-2, 1-5-2 AHA) earned its second straight tie at Webster Bank Arena with late comeback against the Falcons (6-6-3, 2-5-2 AHA).

Johnstone earned his first multi-goal game of his career with his shorthanded & power play goals in the final three minutes of regulation. Junior Stephen Hladin added the Pioneers opening tally in the first period. Five different skaters registered assists for SHU. Senior net minder Nathan Perry registered 19 saves in the net for the Pioneers.

Turning Point…

SHU got off to an early lead with Hladin's goal at 1:12 in the first. The Falcons answered later in the opening period on the rebound goal by Baskin. Both teams battled in the second period putting up seven shots each. The Pioneers also had two power play opportunities in the second but were unsuccessful in moving the puck.SHU continued to struggle on the power play early in the third period. 

The Falcons offense took the lead just over halfway into the third off the goal by Erich Jaeger on the rebound goal. Air Force extended its lead nearly two & a half minutes later off the goal by Jonathan Kopacka on the four-on-four. 

SHU didn't fret battling late in the period on Johnstone's shorthanded goal at 17:24 in the third. The Pioneers earned a power play at 19:29 on the interference penalty by Air Force. Johnstone was net front to bury the game game tying goal as SHU put six skaters on the ice. 

Both Perry and Billy Christopoulos kept both offenses at bay in extra time, making one and four saves respectively to earn the first draw since November 20, 2015 between both teams.

How They Scored..

1:12 - 1st Period: SHU 1, Air Force 0: The Pioneers went on the attack as Alex Bates dumped the puck into the Air Force zone early in the period. The Falcons went to collect the puck along the back wall, but Kory Kennedy put the stick check on the defender. The puck trickled back in front of the net for Hladin to put the puck home for his third goal of the season.

14:36 - 1st Period: SHU 1, Air Force 1: The Falcons drove the puck into the Pioneers zone. Jordan Himley worked the puck from the right side to Matt Koch on the left point. The defenseman sent the puck into the net, looking for a teammate net front. The puck missed the screener net front and Erik Baskin was there to collect the rebound and open score.

10:24 - 3rd Period: Air Force 2, SHU 1: The Falcons went on the attack halfway through the third period as Trevor Stone pushed the puck along the right wall. He dished the cross-ice pass to Jonathan Kopacka for the one-timer. Perry made the stop on the initial shot but was unable to collect the rebound as Erich Jaeger was net front for the score.

12:42 - 3rd Period: Air Force 3, SHU 1: The Pioneers turned over the puck in the Falcons zone on the four-on-four. Evan Giesler picked up the puck along the blue line for the two-on-one rush. He dished the puck on the right side to Jonathan Kopacka for the open look and two goal lead.

17:24- 3rd Period: Air Force 3, SHU 2: Zach Tsekos won the face-off draw from the left circle in the Air Force zone. He made the centering pass to line mate Marc Johnstone as he dove to the net for the Pioneers first shorthanded goal of the season. 

19:38 - 3rd Period: SHU 3, Air Force 3: The Pioneers earned a went on the face-off once again on the power play late in regulation. After the face-off win as Kennedy collected the puck and dished it to Vito Bavaro in front of the net. His shot was denied by Christopoulos but Johnstone was there to bury his second straight goal. 

Key Stats & Notes...

- Hladin has earned a point in four straight games for the Pioneers, earning two goals and two assists in the four-game stretch.

- Johnstone has registered goals in back-to-back games for the first time in his career and netted SHU's first shorthanded goal since February 18, 2017.  

- SHU earned its first goal on the man advantage since November 5 against Canisius. 

Up Next… 

The Pioneers and Falcons wrap up the weekend series on Sunday with a 12:30 p.m. start at Webster Bank Arena.