WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – The Sacred Heart men's hockey team led the AIC Yellow Jackets 3-0 with 8:07 remaining in the second period at Olympia Ice Center Friday night, but settled for a point in a 4-4 overtime tie. Sophomore Jordan Minello (Sweaburg, Ont.) tied a career-high with two goals as the Pioneers extended their unbeaten streak to three games.
Sacred Heart (7-15-5, 6-10-5 AHC) got on the scoreboard 4:08 into the game. With the Pioneers of the power play, Drew George (Regina, Sask.) finished off some tic-tac-toe passing from Mitch Nylen (Lawrenceville, Ga,) and Jacob Brightbill (Anneville, Pa.) with a shot from the left wing past the blocker of AIC goaltender Hunter Leisner to make the score 1-0. Thirty-five seconds later, Ben Lake (Calgary, Alb.) forced a turnover in the Yellow Jackets' zone, getting the puck to Minello for his first goal of the evening and staking Sacred Heart to a 2-0 lead. The Pioneers outshot AIC 16-7 in the first period, taking their two-goal lead into the first intermission.
AIC (3-18-6, 3-12-6 AHC) went on the power play 0:31 into the second period, but the Pioneers held the Yellow Jackets without a shot on goal. Sacred Heart extended its lead to 3-0 at 11:53 of the middle frame, scoring once again on the power play. Minello pounced on a loose puck right in front of the AIC net, roofing his second goal of the night. The Yellow Jackets got on the scoreboard late in the second period, also tallying a power play goal. Bryant Christian guided home the rebound of a Johno May shot at 18:26 to make the score 3-1.
The Yellow Jackets cut the Pioneer lead to one 1:48 into the third period. Matt Cassidy put a Jason Popek shot under the glove of Sacred Heart goaltender Alex Vazzano (Trumbull, Conn.) from close range to make the score 3-2. AIC then tied the game 3-3 at 5:30 of the third period on a goal by Austin Orszulak, who put home the rebound of a May shot. The Pioneers took back the lead at 7:23. After a George slap shot was stopped by Leisner, defenseman David Iacono (Newmarket, Ont.) found the rebound and scored to give Sacred Heart the 4-3 advantage. The Yellow Jackets tied the game again at 15:39 as Christian deflected in a Popek shot from the point for an AIC power play goal.
Sacred Heart had a chance to win the game in regulation, going on the power play with 2:08 remaining. Danforth had three shots stopped by Leisner as AIC killed the penalty to force overtime. The Yellow Jackets outshot Sacred Heart 5-2 in the extra period, and nearly came close to winning in the final seconds as a last-second rebound didn't cross the goal line before time expired.
The Pioneers outshot the Yellow Jackets 42-34. Sacred Heart was 2-for-5 on the power play, as AIC scored twice on nine power plays. Vazzano made 30 saves in net for Sacred Heart as Leisner stopped 38 shots for AIC.
The two teams wrap up their weekend series Saturday night at 7:05 p.m.