BRIDGEPORT, Conn. – The Sacred Heart men's hockey team dropped the consolation game of the Frozen Holiday Classic 3-1 against the Union Dutchmen on Sunday at Webster Bank Arena. The Dutchmen, defending national champions, scored the go-ahead goal with 1:43 remaining in regulation.
Sacred Heart (5-11-2) had the first shot of the game when Zach Luczyk (Charlton, Mass.) had a shot in the slot saved by Union goaltender Alex Sakellaropoulos 1:12 into the contest. The Pioneers then went on the power play with 17:45 to play in the opening period when Nick Cruice was called for boarding. Sacred Heart was held without a shot on the man advantage, though attempts by Luczyk and Ben Lake (Calgary, Alb.) went wide of the goal. The Dutchmen then went on the power play with 14:56 left in the first as Erlich Doerksen (Toronto, Ont.) went to the penalty box for interference. Sacred Heart goaltender Andrew Bodnarchuk (Saskatoon, Sask.) made three saves to keep the game scoreless.
Union (10-7-1) got on the board with 11:00 left in the first period. Ryan Scarfo took a Charlie Vasaturo pass at the Sacred Heart blueline, skated into the zone, and fired a shot right over Bodnarchuk's shoulder into the top corner of the net to give the Dutchmen a 1-0 lead. The Pioneers responded with 9:11 to play in the period. Luczyk finished off a two-on-one end-to-end rush with Zach Sabatini (Johns Creek, Ga.) with a goal right over Sakellaropoulos' blocker to level the game 1-1. Sacred Heart had two quality scoring chances late in the period to take the lead. Luczyk was denied right in front of the Union goal with 6:06 to play in the period, and Jordan Minello (Sweaburg, Ont.) hit the goal post with 2:20 remaining. Union outshot the Pioneers 13-9 in the first period, but the two teams went into the intermission tied 1-1.
Sacred Heart opened the second period with a Drew George (Regina, Sask.) shot right into Sakellaropoulos' glove 49 seconds in. The Dutchmen went on their second power play of the game with 16:36 left in the middle frame as Luczyk was called for cross-checking. The Pioneers held Union without a shot on the man advantage as the game remained tied 1-1. George came close to breaking the tie with 13:03 to play in the second, but Sakellaropoulos stopped his stuff attempt of a Lake pass from behind the net. The Pioneers outshot Union 9-8 in the second period, despite being called for three penalties, and the two teams went back to their locker rooms tied 1-1 heading into the third.
Both teams killed off penalties to open the third period. Union had a chance to break the 1-1 tie with 16:32 to play in the game but Bodnarchuk stopped a Daniel Ciampini shot on a 2-on-1 rush. Mike Vecchione then had a shot from the slot saved with 12:20 left. Sacred Heart responded with a blast from the blueline by Doerksen that was stopped by Sakellaropoulos with 9:40 to play in regulation. The Pioneers then went on the power play with 7:52 remaining as Jeff Taylor was sent off for elbowing. However, it was Union that had two quality scoring chances shorthanded. Ryan Scarfo caused a turnover and rushed into the Sacred Heart zone. David Iacono (Newmarket, Ont.) tripped up Scarfo to keep him from scoring, leading to a penalty shot. Scarfo attempted a low shot right off Bodnarchuk's pads with 7:39 to play that kept the game tied 1-1.
With 1:43 left, the Dutchmen took the lead. Ciampini skated through three Pioneers in the Sacred Heart zone and slipped in the go-ahead goal. The Pioneers best chance to tie the game came with 25 seconds left, but Luczyk's shot from close range went wide. Union tacked on an empty net goal in the final seconds to make the final score 3-1.
The Dutchmen outshot the Pioneers for the game 31-22, and 10-4 in the final period. Both teams were 0-for-4 on the power play. Bodnarchuk made 28 saves for Sacred Heart as Sakellaropoulos stopped 21 shots for Union.
Sacred Heart returns to Atlantic Hockey play on Friday, Jan. 2 when the Pioneers open a weekend series against the Niagara Purple Eagles. The two teams drop the puck at 7:05 p.m.