Erie, Pa.— The 11th seed Sacred Heart University men's hockey team outshot one-seed Mercyhurst 17-9 in the final period but couldn't overcome the late deficit as the Lakers grabbed the 4-2 victory in game one of the Atlantic Hockey Tournament quarterfinal on Friday night.
Mercyhurst (20-11-4) had the two-goal lead as the Pioneers (13-21-4) looked to come back with eight shots on the extra attacker chance in the final minutes at Mercyhurst Ice Center.
SHU took advantage of the man advantage as freshman Marc Johnstone and sophomore Zach Tsekos converted power-play goals. Sophomore Vito Bavaro recorded the multi-assist night with his two helpers on the power play. Sophomore Ruslan Rakhmatov and freshman Josh Allan also added assists. Junior Brett Magnus recorded 26 saves between the pipes for SHU.
The one-seed Lakers got on the board in the first period as Jonathan Charbonneau collected the loose out front in the slot and fired it home at 9:49.
The Pioneers came out strong in the second as Johnstone redirected the puck past Brandon Wildung on SHU's third power play of the night. Mercyhurst's league-leading power play unit answered shortly after as Charbonneau potted the one-timer on the backside of the SHU defense to give the Lakers the 2-1. He completed the hat trick at the tail end of the second with the wrist shot to give Mercyhurst the two-goal cushion.
Mercyhurst struck first in the third period as Michael Verboom buried home the rebound at the doorstep to push the lead to three. The Pioneers picked up their second power-play goal of the night at 6:53 as Tsekos chipped in the loose puck to cut the deficit to two.
SHU went on the six-on-four extra attacker opportunity after the late Mercyhurst penalty with 1:25 to go in regulation. The Pioneers fired eight shots in that span but Wildung came up big with four saves to go along with four blocked shots by the Lakers penalty kill to close out the game.
How They Scored….
9:49 – 1st Period: Mercyhurst 1, SHU 0: The Lakers got on the board just under the halfway mark in the opening period. Magnus made the initial save on the shot by Tyler Ennis. But Charbonneau was there to collect the rebound out in front and beat Magnus five-hole.
2:35 – 2nd Period: Mercyhurst 1, SHU 1: The Pioneers drew the power play early in the second period, working the puck around the perimeter of the zone. Bavaro fired the wrist shot on goal from atop the left circle. Johnstone was at the doorstep to deflect the puck in past Wildung.
5:02 – 2nd Period: Mercyhurst 2, SHU 1: Mercyhurst was on the man-advantage shortly after the Pioneers goal. SHU looked to clear the Lakers chance but Duszak kept the puck in the Pioneers end. He tapered a pass through the SHU defense for a wide-open Charbonneau on the right side for the one-timer for the second goal of the evening.
16:48 – 2nd Period: Mercyhurst 3, SHU 1: The Lakers went on the rush late in the second as Les Lancaster sent the pass to Charbonneau in the neutral zone. He skated through the Pioneers zone and buried the wrist shot past Magnus' blocker side to push the lead back to two and the hat trick.
4:27 – 3rd Period: Mercyhurst 4, SHU 1: Mercyhurst beat the Pioneers In transition as Kane Elliot pulled up in the SHU end. His initial wrist shot was denied by Magnus. But Verboom crashed to the net to bury the loose puck for the three-goal lead.
6:53 – 3rd Period: Mercyhurst 4, SHU 2: SHU worked the puck on the power play at the point as Bavaro sent the puck to Rakhmatov in the middle of the slot. The defenseman timed up the slap shot on goal. The puck banked off the end wall as Tsekos crashed to the net to chip in the puck for SHU's second power-play goal of the night.
Key Stats & Notes…
- Mercyhurst held the shots on goal edge at 30-29 in the game.
- SHU went 2-for-6 on the power play after converting just 1-for-18 in the first-round series at RIT.
- With his goal in the first period, Johnstone reached the 30-point mark for the season. He is the first rookie to reach the mark since 2009-10 as Eric Delong recorded 35 points.
- Bavaro picked up his fourth multi-assist game of the season. He now has seven multi-point games on the year.
The Pioneers take on the Lakers for game two of the best-of-three quarterfinal tomorrow night at 7:05 p.m.