January 13, 2011

Atlantic Hockey Journal: Turning point for Sacred Heart

Sacred Heart senior forward David Berube scored a pair of goals in a 4-2 victory over Air Force. (photo: Sacred Heart Athletics)

Sacred Heart, a pleasant surprise in the 2009-10 season, struggled mightily in the first half this time around.

The Pioneers limped into their holiday break bringing up the rear in Atlantic Hockey with a league record of 2-7-4 and overall mark of 2-12-4.

Things were looking up as the calendar turned, though.

True, Sacred Heart lost its opening game of the New Year to St. Lawrence, 5-2.

But the Pioneers bounced back with their best series of the season last weekend against visiting Air Force, earning a 5-5 tie on Friday and a 4-2 victory on Saturday.

 “It’s a great feeling,” senior forward David Berube said on the team’s Web site. “We haven’t won a whole lot this year, so to get this win against Air Force could be a turning point for us.”

Berube had a pair of goals in the win.

Sacred Heart did a nice bit of rebounding from a frustrating finish in the first game to win the following the night. On Friday night, the Pioneers owned a 5-3 lead entering the third period and gave up the tying goal with 0.6 seconds remaining to settle for a tie.

The three-point weekend moved the Pioneers up a few spots in the standings, and they are three points out of sixth place and five out of second in the tight Atlantic Hockey race.

But they will have to wait to build on any momentum out of the Air Force games.

Sacred Heart is off this weekend and gets back to action with games at Niagara on Jan. 21 and 22.

Then the Pioneers will attempt to get back on a late-season surge. Anything similar to last season would certainly be most appreciated. 

Sacred Heart was 2-6-1 through its first nine league games a year ago and ended up 16-9-3 in Atlantic Hockey, second only to RIT. The Pioneers advanced to the league championship game, where they fell to RIT.

Player of the Week

Shane Madolora, so., RIT

The goalie stopped 84 of 87 shots to lead RIT to a three-point weekend over Army. He had 38 saves in a 1-1 tie Friday night and a career-high 46 in a 5-2 win Saturday. He is 9-0-2 overall and 9-0-1 in Atlantic Hockey games with a 1.68 goals-against average and .947 save percentage.

Looking Ahead        

UConn at Robert Morris, Friday and Saturday

The Huskies are in a tie for fourth place in the league standings with Air Force. Both teams trail Robert Morris and Niagara, who are tied for second, by just a point.

Around Atlantic Hockey

AIC

The Yellow Jackets earned a 1-1 tie against Bentley on Tuesday night in their first league game since a 6-2 win over RIT on Dec. 4. AIC scored first with just 1:54 left in regulation on Tom Mele’s sixth goal of the season. Bentley tied it 44 seconds later with an extra-attacker tally. … The Yellow Jackets are home against Niagara on Friday and Saturday.

Air Force

The Falcons needed a Jacques Lamoureux goal with 0.6 seconds left in Friday’s game against Sacred Heart to salvage a single point out of the weekend series. It was the second time this season and fourth in the last two years that Air Force has come up with a winning or tying goal with less than a second to play. … Army is at Air Force on Friday and Saturday in a rematch of an Atlantic Hockey quarterfinal series won by the Falcons last season.

Army

Army and RIT played to a 1-1 tie on an emotional Friday night at Tate Rink at West Point. After the game, Atlantic Hockey commissioner Robert DeGregorio presented the Derek Hines Unsung Hero Award to Army head coach Brian Riley and other school officials. The Hines Award was first presented in 2007 and was established by the Hockey Commissioners Association to honor Hines, a four-year letterwinner and Black Knights leader from Newburyport, Mass., who was killed in action in Afghanistan on Sept. 1, 2005. The permanent Hines Award will be housed at Tate Rink and each year’s recipient will receive a plaque. Steve and Sue Hines, Derek’s parents, were also on hand for the ceremony.

Bentley

Dustin Cloutier’s extra-attacker goal with 1:10 left in regulation lifted the Falcons to a 1-1 tie with AIC on Tuesday night. It was the fourth goal of the season for Cloutier. … Bentley outshot AIC, 5-0, in overtime but could not get another puck past beat Yellow Jackets goalie Ben Meisner. … The Falcons, 0-5-2 in their last seven games, are at RIT on Friday and Saturday.

Canisius

The Griffs dropped a 3-0 decision to No. 13 Wisconsin on Friday night and took the Badgers to overtime the next night before falling, 6-5. Canisius scored three times on seven power-play chances Saturday night. … A new freshman line of Ryan Bohrer, Taylor Law and Kyle Gibbons contributed three goals and three assists in the 6-5 loss. Law had a pair of goals and Gibbons added three assists 

UConn

Linemates Sean Ambrosie and Cole Schneider led the Huskies to a 3-1 win over Mercyhurst on Friday night. Ambrosie, a sophomore, had two goals and an assist and Schneider, a freshman, had three assists. It was Ambrosie’s first three-point night of the season and Schneider’s third in six games. … The Huskies have scored 64 goals so far this season. They had 59 total last season. … UConn plays a pair at Robert Morris this weekend.

Holy Cross

The Crusaders have a showdown at Mercyhurst on Friday and Saturday. Holy Cross is tied with Canisius for sixth place in the league with 14 points. Merychurst is one spot and two points back. … The Crusaders bring Atlantic Hockey’s best power play to Erie. Holy Cross is scoring at a 23.4 percent clip with the man advantage.  … The Crusaders are 5-4-2 on the road this season.

Mercyhurst

Seniors Mike Gurtler and Scott Pitt helped the Lakers rebound from a Friday night loss at UConn with a 9-4 win over the Huskies on Saturday night. Gurtler and Pitt scored short-handed goals on the same UConn power play in the second period. They were the first two Lakers to pull that trick since Tom McMonagle and Aaron Morrison in a 6-1 win over Holy Cross on March 4, 2000. … Pitt finished with two goals and an assist in the game and Gurtler had the goal and two assists.

Niagara

The Purple Eagles went with a little of the old, a little of the new to earn a weekend split at Holy Cross. … Senior forward Brian Haczyk ran his point-scoring streak to 16 games with a hat trick and newcomer Cody Campbell made 35 saves to win his collegiate debut in a 5-2 triumph on Friday night. Campbell joined the team during the semester break after a season-ending injury to freshman Carsen Chubak. … Campbell had 31 saves in a 5-1 Niagara loss the next night.

Robert Morris

Senior Denny Urban needs just two points to become the first 100-point defenseman at Robert Morris. He is at 27-71-98 going into a weekend series at home against UConn. … Urban is at 7-19-26 this season, second on the team to only senior Nathan Longpre’s 10-18-28. … The Colonials will try to hold off UConn, which is one point back in the standings. UConn is tied with Air Force and Robert Morris is tied for second with Niagara.

RIT

Sophomore goalie Shane Madolora backed up his December Goalie of the Month honors with another impressive weekend, allowing just three goals in 87 shots and helping RIT pick up three points against Army. … The Tigers hold a six-point lead over Niagara and Robert Morris in the Atlantic Hockey standings and will try to extend the gap with a home series against Bentley this weekend. … RIT has an 11-game unbeaten streak against Atlantic teams: The last league foe to win at Ritter Arena was Bentley with a 5-4 decision on Jan. 30 last season.

Sacred Heart

The Pioneers only got two power-play chances in a weekend set against Air Force but made the most of them. They went one-for-one with the man advantage each night, helping them pick up three points for the weekend. … The Pioneers followed a 5-5 tie on Friday night with a 4-2 win on Saturday. … Sophomore goalie Steven Leggato made 30 saves on Friday night and 35 on Saturday.

Allen Lessels can be reached at feedback@hockeyjournal.com