Minello’s Game Winner Caps Pioneers Comeback Over Air Force in Regular Season Finale

Minello’s Game Winner Caps Pioneers Comeback Over Air Force in Regular Season Finale

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.— A late comeback by the Sacred Heart men's ice hockey team was sealed with senior Jordan Minello's game winning goal at 2:31 in overtime for the 3-2 victory over Air Force on Saturday night. The victory was the first since March 14, 2009 at Cadet Ice Arena for the Pioneers (12-17-5, 10-15-3) and spoiled the Falcons (22-9-5, 19-6-3 AHA) chance for the Atlantic Hockey regular season crown.

Sacred Heart got on the board just 37 seconds into regulation as sophomore Stephen Hladin pinpointed the puck on the short side past Air Force goaltender Shane Starrett. Liam Clare and Minello recorded the assists on the play. Air Force took advantage in the second period, converting on two power play opportunities. The Falcons tied up the game on the one timer by Evan Giesler, who was wide open at the top of the right circle on the feed from Phil Boje at 6:21. The second chance came at 13:44 as Kyle Haak was hit with the centering pass in the middle of the slot from Matt Serratore to give the Falcons the 2-1 lead. The third period looked much of the same as Air Force controlled the puck with a 16-5 shot on goal edge. Sacred Heart stayed alive thanks to junior goaltender Nathan Perry making several key stops to keep it a one goal game.

The Pioneers went on the extra attacker opportunity in the final minutes of regulation. Senior Justin Danforth put a shot on goal from the left point and Hladin was there to collect the puck and fire into the open net. Hladin picked up the first multi-goal game of his career. Overtime was all Sacred Heart's as they controlled the puck, outshooting the Falcons 4-0 in extra time. The last shot proved to be the difference maker as Minello fired in the rebound on captain Mitch Nylen's slap shot from the point for the game winner at 2:31. Minello has recorded seven game winning goals in his collegiate career.

Air Force outshot Sacred Heart 41-22 in the game. The Pioneers went 0-for-4 on the man advantage, The Falcons went 2-for-8 on the power play. Perry tied a career-high with 39 saves in goal for SHU, Starrett recorded 19 saves for the Falcons.

The Pioneers will travel to Bentley for the first round of Atlantic Hockey postseason tournament. The best-of-three series, will start Friday, March 3rd. Game times have yet to be announced.

First Period

- Hladin with the goal 37 seconds into the first period. Clare with his 21 assist of the season on the play.

- Tyler Ledford's wrap around shot denied by Perry at 4:44 in the first.

- Coltyn Hansen with the standout defense blocking two of Phil Boje's shot on the power play at 6:50.

Second Period

- Danforth with the centering pass to Graboski point-blank in the slot but Starrett denied the puck at 3:31.

- Minello with the breakaway opportunity but was denied by Starrett at 10:05.

- Haak and Jordan Himley have back-to-back shots on net denied by Perry at 11:14 in the second.

Third Period

- Pioneers failed to get a shot attempt during the 2:56 major power play in the third.

- Perry with the glove save on the slap shot by Kyle Mackey on the power play at 15:14 in the third.

- Hladin tied it up at 2-2 at 19:07 with his second goal of the night. He picked up his first multi-goal game of his career.


- Minello was there to collect the rebound on the shot by Nylen. Minello now sits at 49 career goals. Danforth picked up his second assist of the night on the play. 

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