Nov. 24, 2009
Setting the Scene... Sacred Heart heads to New Haven, CT tonight to take on instate rival Yale in non conference action. The Pioneers will look to rebound after being swept by Atlantic Hockey leader RIT, 3-2 and 5-3, over the weekend. Yale is coming off of a Saturday 6-5 overtime win against Brown and a 4-3 loss to UMass Thursday night. The game has an intriguing back story as SHU head coach C.J. Marottolo faces his former squad, where he was an assistant and associate coach for 13 seasons. Sitting on the Bulldogs bench as a member of the Yale staff will be former Pioneer assistant coach Dan Muse.
The Series... Tuesday’s game will be the first ever meeting between the Pioneers and Bulldogs. Sacred Heart is 13-36-5 all-time against current ECAC teams. The Pioneers have played four games this season versus ECAC members and compiled a 1-2-1 record with three of those tilts needing overtime.
Road Warriors... Sacred Heart continues a nine game road trip that includes seven games against Atlantic Hockey opponents. The Pioneers are 1-3-1 on this trip that will make two more stops, Dec 4-5 against Army and December 13 in a non conference tilt with Dartmouth. Sacred Heart will have a eight game home stand to start play after the winter break.
Like Father, Like Son... Freshman Kyle Verbeek (Bloomfield, MI), son of former NHL star Pat Verbeek, posted a goal and two assists in the Pioneers weekend series with RIT. Verbeek had a hand in both of the SHU goals Friday night and scored his first collegiate goal in thie third period to knot the game at 2-2. His assist Saturday night in the series finale came on the power play and gave Sacred Heart a 3-2 lead in the final period.
Connecticut Shootout... The Pioneers and Bulldogs are both high scoring teams. SHU is second in Atlantic Hockey scoring 3.27 goals per game, Yale is seventh in the nation at a 3.71 clip.
Third Period Heartbreakers... Sacred Heart and RIT entered the third period of both games last weekend with the score tied. The Pioneers had ample opportunities in both contests to earn a win but could not find a game winning goal. SHU put themselves in a tight spot Friday as RIT put the game away on a five on three power play. Saturday night was especially frustrating for the Pioneers who spent nine minutes total in the final period on the power play without a goal before the Tigers lit the lamp with what would prove to be the final dagger.
Keeping it Close... Six of the Pioneers 11 games in 2009-10 have been decided by one goal or less. Sacred Heart has a 2-2-2 record in these games, 1-1-1 in Atlantic Hockey play. Two additional games could have been decided by one goal if not for an empty netter added to the final tally. The Pioneers have played four overtime games this season with a 1-2-1 mark. SHU finished the 2008-09 campaign with a 3-7-4 record in one goal contests.
Scouting the Bulldogs... Yale enters their tilt with SHU as the 11th ranked team in the country. The Bulldog attack is led by Junior Brock Little who has posted seven goals and four assists for 11 points on the season, ranking him first in the nation in goals per game. Ryan Rondeau and Nick Maricic have split time in net for Yale this season with the two goaltenders putting up nearly identical numbers. Rondeau has posted a 2.84 goals against average while Maricic holds a 2.85, both netminders have compiled a 1-1-1 record for the year. The Bulldogs average just under 11 penalty minutes per game making them the 7th least penalized time in Division I.
Save the Puck... Freshmen Kyle Verbeek and Tommy Castonguay (Rimouski, QC) both notched their first collegiate goals this weekend against RIT. Eric Delong (Oakville, MB) and Reid MacLeod (Teulon, MB) have also scored their first career goals this season. Pioneer rookies who are still looking for their first goal include Neil McKenney (Buffalo, NY) as well as defenders Mitchell Stretch (Saskatoon, SK) and Alex Stuart (Sauk Rapids, MN).
Gingera Goes Back-to-Back... Sophomore Matt Gingera (Winnipeg, MB) scored two goals in 55 seconds in the first period Saturday afternoon against RIT. Gingera scored his first goal after a wide shot from Alex Stuart (Sauk Rapids, MN) caromed off the glass in front of the net. Gingera swung his stick at hip level and knocked the puck out of mid air and into the net. The sophomore winger never left the ice and lit the lamp again after taking the puck off of the goaltenders stick and using a back handed wrap around to give SHU an early 2-1 advantage.
Up Next... The Pioneers will enjoy a weekend off before continuing Atlantic Hockey play against Army December 4-5. Sacred Heart then heads to Hanover, NH as they conclude the first half of the season at Dartmouth.