BRIDGEPORT, Conn.— The Sacred Heart men’s ice hockey team fell to Niagara, 6-2 in the series finale on Saturday afternoon. The Purple Eagles (4-2, 2-0 AHA) held off the Pioneers with four goals in the final period to earn the series sweep at Webster Bank Arena.
Sophomores Vito Bavaro & Zach Tsekos scored for the Pioneers, in the first and third period respectively. Freshman Michael Gilroy registered his first career point on an assist in the first. Junior Jackson Barliant, Bavaro & Johnstone all registered assists as well. Senior Nathan Perry recorded 33 saves in goal for the Pioneers.
After a scoreless opening period, the Pioneers struck first with Bavaro’s goal in the opening minutes in the second period. The Purple Eagles added two in the second as well to take the lead 2-1. The momentum carried into the third as they tacked on three more goals to the five-goal run including the game winning shorthanded goal by Eric Cooley at 1:26 to take home the sweep. The Pioneers were unable to limit the breakaway chances for the Purple Eagles on the defensive end. SHU put up 14 shots in the final frame but were unable to catch Niagara who led the shots on goal 39-26.
How They Scored…
1:09 – 2nd Period- SHU 1, Niagara 0: The Pioneers worked the puck through the Niagara zone with Barliant receiving the puck along the halfboards. The junior swung the pass to Gilroy who fired a rocket from the point but was denied by Brian Wilson. Bavaro was net front to put home his fifth goal of the season.
3:13 – 2nd Period- SHU 1, Niagara 1: The Purple Eagles answered the Pioneers shortly after as Sean King worked the puck from behind the net. He found Nick Farmer charging in the slot to chip one over Perry’s head top shelf.
18:35 – 2nd Period- Niagara 2, SHU 1: On the set attack once again, Derian Plouffe wristed a shot from the left point wide for the big bounce off the backboard. Cooley fired in the initial rebound shot but was saved by Perry’s pad. Derek Brown cleaned up the play for the Purple Eagles lead.
1:26 – 3rd Period- Niagara 3, SHU 1: The Pioneers power play opportunity turned into a shorthanded favor for the Purple Eagles. Plouffe ended the SHU attack in the Niagara zone and hit Cooley in stride. The rookie used his speed into the Pioneers zone and fired a wrist shot to the left post beating Perry blocker side.
2:20 – 3rd Period- Niagara 4, SHU 1: Niagara had the three on two rush just 54 second later as Chris Harpur led the attack in from the right side. Harpur was patient with the puck as he found Tanner Lomsnes on the trail in the slot for the goal.
11:29 – 3rd Period- Niagara 5, SHU 1: Lomsnes once again had the Purple Eagles on the breakaway from the cross-ice pass from Harpur. Lomsnes took the puck on the breakaway went top shelf for his second goal of the game.
14:31 – 3rd Period- Niagara 5, SHU 2: The Pioneers collected themselves late in the game, as Bavaro worked the puck from center ice to Johnstone. The rookie drove to the net and fired one from the right side. Wilson made the initial stop but Tsekos chipped in the loose puck for his second goal of the season.
18:08 – 3rd Period- Niagara 6, SHU 2: SHU went on the extra attacker opportunity after drawing a 6-on-3 chance late in the third. Niagara was able to kill the first penalty for the 6-on-4 chance. The Pioneers coughed up the puck in the Purple Eagles zone. Plouffe picked up the puck at center ice and lifted a backhanded shot into the empty net to seal the game.
Key Stats & Notes..
Bavaro picked up his second multi-point game of the season.
Johnstone has picked up assists in back-to-back games.
Gilroy is the seventh rookie to register his first career point this season.
The Pioneers close the four-game homestand with a two-game series against Canisius. The series will open Saturday, November 4 at 2:05 p.m.