Pioneers Shutout RIT, 2-0 to Advance To Atlantic Hockey Quarterfinals

Pioneers Shutout RIT, 2-0 to Advance To Atlantic Hockey Quarterfinals

ROCHESTER, N.Y.— Led by a 32 save effort from junior goaltender Brett Magnus the Sacred Heart University men's hockey team earned the 2-0 shutout victory over RIT to advance to the Atlantic Hockey quarterfinals. The Pioneers (13-20-4) used a pair of first period goals to pull away with the deciding game three over the Tigers (15-20-2) at the Gene Polisseni Center. 

SHU advances to the Atlantic Hockey quarterfinal series for the first time since the 2014-15 season. 

Junior co-captain Mike Crocock tallied the opening goal for the Pioneers before sophomore Austin McIlmurray doubled the lead with his power-play goal in the final 34 seconds of the first period.

Sophomore Zach Tsekos recorded a pair of assists in the second straight game to lead the Pioneers. Freshmen Marc Johnstone and Josh Allan also added assists in the win.

Magnus was sensational in goal, carrying over his standout play in the extra periods of last night's victory to earn his second career shutout.

Turning Point…

The Pioneers got on the board just over the halfway mark in the opening period as Crocock buried the uncontested wrap-around goal for his second goal of the weekend. Two big miscues by RIT late in the period gave SHU the five-on-three power play chance. McIlmurray buried the one-timer off the feed from Allan to put SHU ahead 2-0 with 34 seconds to go in the first.

The second period started with the Pioneers on the man-advantage for seven minutes but they were unable to sneak one by the RIT defense with just two shots on goal. The Tigers turned the offense on late with a power play of their own but SHU killed it off to end the period. The Pioneers held the slight shots on goal advantage at 7-6.

RIT came out strong in the third period, gaining the favor of three-power play opportunities but were unsuccessful against the Pioneers penalty kill unit. The Tigers went on the extra attacker opportunity with 1:57 left in regulation looking to keep their playoff hopes alive. Magnus made four huge stops at the end along with 18 saves in the final period to hold the Tigers out of the net.

How They Scored…

12:06 – 1st Period: SHU 1, RIT 0: The Pioneers broke open the scoring as Crocock picked up the puck along the right circle from the feed by Johnstone. He skated behind the net and went untouched for the wrap-around score to give SHU its first lead of the weekend.

19:26 – 1st Period: SHU 2, RIT 0: SHU moved the puck well on the five-on-three power play opportunity late in the period. Tsekos picked up the puck as McIlmurray's first shot went wide. He dished the puck to Allan at the top of the point to set things up. The rookie saw McIlmurray wide open at the right circle for the one-timer and SHU's first power play goal of the weekend.

Key Stats & Notes…

  • After falling in game three of its last two first-round series, SHU advances to the quarterfinals for the first time since sweeping Army back on March 6-7, 2015.
  • Pioneers snapped a 0-for-14 drought on the power play in the series with the power play goal with 34 seconds remaining.
  • The Pioneers improved to 10-1-3 this season with the lead after two periods of play.
  • All three of Crocock's goals this season have come against the Tigers. Three of the four goals scored in his career have come in the postseason.
  • 12 of the Pioneers 18 skaters contributed a point on the weekend with McIlmurray, Tsekos and junior Stephen Hladin leading the way with four points each.

Up Next… 

The Pioneers will take on the Atlantic Hockey regular season champs and number one seed, Mercyhurst for a best-of-three games quarterfinal series. Game one is slated for Friday, March 9.