ERIE, Pa.— The Sacred Heart men's ice hockey team earned the series split against Mercyhurst with a 5-3 win at the Mercyhurst Ice Center on Saturday night. The Pioneers (4-10-2, 2-7-2 AHA) had 11 skaters register a point in the final meeting against the Lakers (6-6-2, 3-3-2 AHA) this season.
SHU had four different goal scorers on the night, paced by redshirt sophomore Jason Cotton with his first career multi-goal showing. Senior Kory Kennedy, sophomore Vito Bavaro and freshman Jordan Kaplan also found the back of the net.
Seven different Pioneers registered assists in the victory led by sophomore Ruslan Rakhmatov & freshman Matt Tugnutt with two assists each. Junior Brett Magnus turned away 25 shots in his fourth win of the season.
Déjà vu seemed to be the case once again as Sacred Heart got off to the early 2-0 lead for the third straight game as Bavaro registered the goal in the first period. Cotton doubled up the Pioneers with his score early in the second after picking up the opening goal last night. Mercyhurst didn't back down as Taylor Best picked up his second goal of the series at the 5:39 in the second.
The Pioneers drew the major penalty on the Lakers shortly after and capitalized with Kennedy's second goal of the season. Mercyhurst continued to spend the period on the penalty kill on a roughing penalty at 13:55. Captain Jack Riley registered the Lakers second shorthanded goal of the series to cut the SHU lead to 3-2 into the second intermission.
SHU recorded its second power play goal of the game with Cotton's second tally at 3:27 for the two-goal cushion. The Pioneers got the fifth goal courtesy of Kaplan at 10:50 in the period for the two-goal cushion. Mercyhurst scored quickly there after with Riley's second goal of the game at 11:47.
Magnus made six stops in the remaining minutes as the Lakers looked to rally with the extra attacker opportunity for the second straight night but were held scoreless by the junior netminder to give SHU its second Atlantic Hockey victory of the season.
How They Scored...
11:28 – 1st Period: SHU 1, Mercyhurst 0: Just a little over halfway through the opening frame, the Pioneers picked up the turnover in the Mercyhurst zone as Marc Johnstone collected the puck. He sent the puck to Zach De Concilys who fed the pass to Bavaro in the middle of the slot. The sophomore fired one on goal but Wildung made the stop on the initial shot. He couldn't corral the puck as Bavaro tapped in the rebound goal.
2:18 – 2nd Period: SHU 2, Mercyhurst 0: SHU continued to control the offensive tempo into the second period moving the puck in the Lakers zone. Tugnutt dished the puck to Marcus Joseph along the left wall. The defenseman made the sweet cross-ice feed to Cotton at the door step for goals in back-to-back games.
5:39 -2nd Period: SHU 2, Mercyhurst 1: Sacred Heart was able to kill off the penalty, blocking several Mercyhurst shots on the man advantage. After the penalty expired the Pioneers were stuck with the puck behind its own goal. James Anderson picked up the puck and dished it back into the slot. Best was left untouched on the charging one-timer to get Mercyhurst on the board.
7:30 – 2nd Period: SHU 3, Mercyhurst 1: The Pioneers drew the Mercyhurst major penalty at 6:19. On the power play, SHU moved the puck with Tsekos & Rakmatov working the puck along the blue line. Tsekos final pass to Kennedy as the senior fired a wrist shot past Wildung's blocker side from the middle of the point.
14:49 – 2nd Period: SHU 3, Mercyhurst 2: Mercyhurst went on the penalty kill for the sixth minute of the period. The Lakers pushed the puck into the Sacred Heart zone as Magnus collected the puck. But Michael Verboom was there to apply pressure and worked the puck free. He fed the puck to Riley who used his speed to create some separation and beat Magnus for the shorthanded score.
3:27 – 3rd Period: SHU 4, Mercyhurst 2: After several shorthanded charges by the Lakers, SHU shifted to its second power play unit looking for some separation. The Pioneers went on the quick rush with Cotton bringing the puck into the Mercyhurst zone. He fed the pass back to Rakhmatov who fired one from the point. Cotton crashed to the net and redirected the puck past Wildung.
10:50 – 3rd Period: SHU 5, Mercyhurst 2: The Pioneers continued to charge as Stephen Hladin forced the turnover in the Mercyhurst zone. He fed the pass ahead to Kaplan on the charge and he buried the puck in the back of the net.
11:47 – 3rd Period: SHU 5, Mercyhurst 3: Just 56 seconds after the Pioneers goal, the Lakers ticked up the offensive pressure. Mercyhurst's starting line of Jonathan Charbonneau and Derek Barach hit Riley at the doorstep for his second goal of the game.
Key Stats & Notes...
- Cotton's first multi-goal game gives him three multi-point games on the season.
- Rakhmatov now leads the team with 10 assists after his third multi-assist game of the season.
- Tugnutt has record a point in three straight contests, with his first multi-assist outing of his career.
- SHU was 2-for-4 on the power play, the first game with two goals on the man advantage since October 7 at Northeastern.
- The Pioneers now move to 3-0-1 on the year when scoring five goals or more.
The Pioneers will host Nutmeg State rival Yale at Webster Bank Arena in the final contest before the semester break on Saturday, December 9 at 7:05 p.m.