WEST POINT, N.Y.— The Sacred Heart University men's ice hockey team wrapped up the 2017-18 regular season with a 4-3 loss to Army West Point on Saturday night.
The Pioneers (11-19-4, 9-14-4 AHA) cut the deficit to one with 9:09 to go in regulation but were unable to find the equalizer against the Black Knights (14-13-6, 11-10-6 AHA).
Sophomores Vito Bavaro and Austin McIlmurray along with senior Kory Kennedy found the back of the net after SHU was held scoreless in last night's loss. Sophomore Zach Tsekos recorded a multi-assist game for SHU with Bavaro and junior co-captain Mike Crocock and freshman Josh Allan also dishing out assists. Junior Brett Magnus recorded 13 saves in goal for the Pioneers.
SHU close the regular season 11th place in the Atlantic Hockey standings and will meet the sixth-seed, RIT in Rochester in the best-of-three first round series this coming weekend.
The Black Knights continued over the momentum from last night's 6-0 win picking up the first goal of the game at 7:16 off the stick of Connor Andrle. SHU finally found the back of the net on the power play at the tail end of the first as Bavaro buried his 16th goal of the season. SHU was only able to muster one goal against Cole Bruns after outshooting the Black Knights 13-4 in the period.
Army doubled its lead just over the halfway mark in the second period as Brendan Soucie scored at 11:41 and Dominic Franco followed with a power-play goal at 13:15. The Pioneers ended the two-goal run on McIlmurray's 11th of the season at 14:14 in the frame to bring the score to 3-2 into the second intermission.
An errant pass by the Pioneers in the final seconds of the power play led to the breakaway score by Tyler Pham to give Army the two-goal cushion. SHU pushed the tempo as the third period went on catching an Army mishap just over the halfway mark. The Black Knights clear attempt was knocked down by Kennedy who later scored on the rebound to bring the score to 4-3.
The Pioneers last-minute efforts for a comeback were wiped away as Army drew the five-on-three power play with 1:37 to go.
How They Scored…
7:16 – 1st Period: Army West Point 1, SHU 0: Army went on the rush in the tail end of the power play with Brendan Soucie skating through the neutral zone. He fired the wrist shot on goal but sailed the puck high but Andrle was there to chip in the rebound from behind the net.
17:35 – 1st Period: Army West Point 1, SHU 1: The Pioneers worked the puck on the power play along the top of the zone. Allan received the puck in the middle of the slot from McIlmurray. The freshman sent the puck out to Bavaro on the left side. The sophomore timed up the one-timer and blasted it past Bruns blocker side to tie the game.
11:41 – 2nd Period: Army West Point 2, SHU 1: The Black Knights caused the turnover in the Pioneers end as Wilson picked up the puck. He sent it out to Soucie at the left circle as he fired it over Magnus' left shoulder to break the tie.
13:15 – 2nd Period: Army West Point 3, SHU 1: The Army Power play unit weaved the puck along the point looking to break the Pioneers defense. Tyler Pham fired the wrist shot from the middle of the zone. Franco moved in front of the doorstep to deflect the puck past Magnus.
14:14 – 2nd Period: Army West Point 3, SHU 2: On the four-on-four play late in the second, SHU went in on the two-on-two rush. Tsekos crashed to the net on the right side as McIlmurray moved into the middle of the slot. The linemates timed up the pass as McIlmurray beat the outstretch Bruns with the backhanded shot.
0:36 – 3rd Period: Army West Point 4, SHU 2: The Black Knights caught the break on the bad pass by the Pioneers. John Laurito raced out of the penalty box to skate the puck into the SHU zone. He found Pham across the ice for the breakaway score past the stretched-out Magnus.
11:51 – 3rd Period: Army West Point 4, SHU 3: The Pioneers dumped the puck in to change up lines as the Black Knights failed to clear the puck out. Kennedy kept the puck in play and dished the pass out to Crocock on the trail. The co-captain fired the slap shot on goal but was padded down by Bruns as was the rebound chance by Bavaro but Kennedy stayed with the play crashing to the net for the rebound goal.
Key Stats & Notes…
- The Pioneers will play the first round of the Atlantic Hockey playoffs for the third straight season.
- McIlmurray and Tsekos both reached the 20-point mark for the season. SHU now has five 20-point scorers this season, the most since 2015-16.
- Bavaro registered his team-leading sixth multi-point game of the season and now has 29 points on the season.
- Bavaro's power-play goal in the first snapped a 0-for-14 skid on the man advantage.
The Pioneers will travel to RIT for the Atlantic Hockey first-round series this weekend. The best-of-three series begins Friday, March 2 at 7:05 PM from the Gene Polissini Center.