Setting the Scene...The Sacred Heart men's ice hockey team wraps up its four game road swing with a weekend series at Air Force.
Last Time Out... The Pioneers earned the season series sweep with a 4-2 win over Bentley on Tuesday night. Ruslan Rakhmatov and Matt Tugnutt got SHU up early with first period goals. Bentley got one back in the end of the first period, but the Pioneers didn't let up as Jason Cotton and Vito Bavaro scored in the second to push the game to 4-1. The Falcons picked up a shorthanded score early in the third but Brett Magnus recorded nine saves the rest of the game to secure the win. He recorded 40 saves overall for his second highest save total of the season.
Last Meeting... SHU fell to Air Force 5-3 in the weekend series finale on November 26 at Webster Bank Arena. The Pioneers took the 2-0 lead with goals by Austin McIlmurray and Matt Tugnutt. The Falcons proceeded to put up five straight goals ending with a 5-2 lead at 11:45 in the third period. Vito Bavaro cut the deficit to two with his goal at 12:19 in the final period, but SHU was held to just six shots in the final frame. Nathan Perry registered 26 saves in net for the Pioneers.
All-Time Series... The Falcons own the all-time series against the Pioneers at 26-9-6. In the last 10 meetings, Air Force holds a 5-3-2 advantage over SHU. The Pioneers picked up the second win in program history at Cadet Ice Arena with a 3-2 overtime win in the series finale on February 25, 2017. The win held off Air Force's chance at the Atlantic Hockey regular season title.
Scouting The Falcons... Air Force enters the weekend 11-10-3, 6-8-2 in Atlantic Hockey and currently own a three-game win streak. The Falcons hold the second best scoring defense in the conference at 2.62 goals per game. Evan Giesler leads the Air Force offense with 16 points on six goals and 10 assists. Erik Baskin paces the team with 10 goals scored and Tyler Ledford leads in assists with 11 on the season. Goaltender Billy Christopoulos is coming off a shutout performance last time out. He enters the matchup with a 2.47 goals against average and .911 save percentage.
TCM Line Comes Through... The Pioneers line of Matt Tugnutt, Jason Cotton & Austin McIlmurray have been paired together since November 4. The trio is turning into a classic, catching fire in the last four games by putting up 16 out of SHU's 29 points with a combined +14 rating as the Pioneers picked up two Atlantic Hockey wins. McIlmurray leads the team with six points on two goals and four assists. Tugnutt & Cotton each put up two goals and three assists for five points each. Cotton has scored a point in four straight games and has put up a +6 rating in the last four games.