Pioneers Skate By Air Force 2-1 on Friday Night

Pioneers Skate By Air Force 2-1 on Friday Night

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.— The Sacred Heart University men's ice hockey team pulled away with a 2-1 victory over Air Force on Friday night at Cadet Ice Arena. The Pioneers (7-14-4, 5-10-4 AHA) earned back-to-back wins for the second time this season, severing the Falcons (11-11-3, 6-9-2 AHA) three-game win streak in the process. 

Junior Jackson Barliant and freshman Mel Melconian picked up the Pioneer goals on the night. Melconian also picked up an assist along with sophomore Vito Bavaro and freshman Alex Bates. Junior Brett Magnus recorded 35 saves in his second straight win in goal for SHU.

Turning Point… 

The Pioneers opened the scoring early in the first period as Barliant fired home his second career goal on SHU's first shot of the game at 3:04 in the period. Air Force got one back off the stick of Marshall Bowery at the 12:35 mark. 

SHU took advantage of an Air Force turnover early in the second as Melconian chipped in the go-ahead goal at 3:22 in the second. Magnus turned away all nine shots he saw in the middle frame.

The Falcons best chance came at the tail end of the third period with a 6-on-4 advantage with the extra attacker and Pioneer penalty at 18:11. The Pioneers penalty kill unit picked up several key blocks coupled with the end of a 17 save blank sheet by Magnus in the final period to hold the Falcons scoreless. SHU improves its record to 6-1-3 when ahead after two periods of play.

How They Scored…

3:04 – 1st Period: SHU 1, Air Force 0: The Pioneers rushed up the ice early in the first period as Melconian fed the pass from the Pioneers end wall out to Bates. The defenseman dished it ahead to Barliant for on the one-man breakout into the Falcons zone. The junior deked past one defender and sent the wrist shot past Billy Christopoulos for his first goal of the season.

12:35 – 1st Period: SHU 1, Air Force 1: The Falcons forced the puck into the Pioneers end on the dump it, both teams fought for the puck in the scrum along the end wall. Walker Sommer forced the puck back into the middle of the slot for Bowery to pick it up. He fired the wrist shot past Magnus top shelf to tie the game.

3:22 – 2nd Period: SHU 2, Air Force 1: Off the Falcons turnover, SHU earned another quick breakaway. Bavaro picked up the puck along the left half wall, sending the backhanded pass out to Melconian in the middle of the slot. The rookie's first shot was saved by Christopoulos but he was able to bury the rebound shot to give SHU the lead it wouldn't relinquish. 

Key Stats & Notes…

  • Melconian earned his first career multi-point game in the win.
  • SHU picked up its first victory in one-goal contests this season.
  • The Pioneers earned back-to-back wins for the first time since Oct. 14-19 -UConn W 3-1, Notre Dame W 6-4.
  • SHU's penalty kill unit is a perfect 12-for-12 in the last three games.
  • Pioneers have won two straight games at Cadet Ice Arena, fighting off the Falcons shot at an Atlantic Hockey regular season title with a 3-2 overtime win on February 25, 2017.

Up Next…

The Pioneers and Falcons wrap up their season series tomorrow night with a 7:05 p.m. ET puck drop from Cadet Ice Arena.