Pioneers Advance To AHA Championship - Knowlton Nets Late Game Winner

March 19, 2010

Box Score

Rochester, NY - Patrick Knowlton (Colorado Springs, CO) slammed a shot into the roof of the net with 42 seconds remaining in regulation to lift the Pioneers to a 2-1 victory over Air Force in the AHA semifinals tonight in Rochester, NY. Freshman Steven Legatto (Kelowna, BC) made 32 saves as SHU knocked off the three time defending conference champions.

Air Force (16-15-6) nearly broke onto the scoreboard just 3:20 into the first period as Scott Kozlak took a centering pass deep in the SHU end but his shot clipped the right post to deny the Falcons. The Pioneers had a good scoring chance 1:30 later as David Berube (Quebec City, QC) led a rush up the ice and threw a centering pass to Matt Gingera (Winnipeg, MB). Air Force goaltender Andrew Volkening denied Gingera's shot on the doorstep.

Sacred Heart (21-12-4) had another opportunity towards the end of the frame as Nick Johnson (Windsor, CT), tied for the NCAA lead in goals with 27, was turned away by a good save on a wrap around. The Falcons would get a power play to end the first period but their best chance was stopped by SHU netminder Legatto, who went into the splits to make a glove save on a Tim Kirby slap shot. The two teams went into the first intermission still in a scoreless tie.

The Falcons Jacques Lamoureux found himself alone in the right circle on the power play early in the middle stanza but he too would be denied by the post. SHU nearly capitalized on an Air Force turnover seven minutes into the period as Volkening sent an errant pass towards center ice. Boisvert rushed in on the Falcons goaltender but would not be able to beat the senior with a move to his backhand, keeping the game scoreless.

Sacred Heart would get the game’s opening goal 9:46 into the period as Erik Boisvert (Drummondville, QC) lit the lamp for the 13th time this season. Eric Delong (Oakville, MB) stayed strong on his skates after an Air Force hit and tossed a shot on Volkening. Boisvert dove into the slot and back handed the rebound into the cage to give SHU a 1-0 advantage. The Falcons had an opportunity with a short handed rush to knot the game before the second intermission. However, senior captain Corey Laurysen (Ottawa, ON) got back to break up the two-on-one rush and preserve the Pioneer lead at 1-0 after two periods.

Air Force stormed out of the locker room to start the third period forcing Legatto to make several key stops early.  Kozlak and Kirby both nearly tied the game on transition opportunites but were turned away by Legatto.  The Pioneers had a chance to extend the lead to 2-0 on the power play.  Delong got a centering pass in the slot and ripped a one timer that Volkening just got a piece of to keep his team close. 

Kozlak intercepted a SHU pass in the defensive end with three minutes remaining and skated in alone on Legatto.  The SHU netminder just got a shoulder on the junior's high hard wrist shot to make the save.  Falcons head coach Frank Serratore pulled his goaltender for the extra attacker with 1:39 remaining.  After a timeout and a faceoff win Air Force capitalized on a scrum in front of the SHU net knocking in the game tying goal.  Lamoureux was the one who finished the play with his 22nd goal of 2009-10. 

The Pioneers never blinked and skated into the offensive end after the ensuing draw.  Dave Jarman (Toronto, ON) found himself with the puck behind the Air Force net.  He made a perfect pass onto the tape of Knowlton who left no doubt, pounding the puck top shelf for what would prove to be the game winner.  The goal was the latest regulation game winner in AHA semifinal history. 

The win propels Sacred Heart into the program's second ever Atlantic Hockey championship game.  The Pioneers will look for the teams first ever AHA title tomorrow night as they take on the #1 seed RIT Tigers at the Blue Cross Arena, game time is set for 7:05 pm.