MILFORD, Conn. – Trailing 4-2 with 8:13 remaining in regulation Friday night, the Sacred Heart men's hockey team scored twice in the final 3:45 to force overtime against the Air Force Falcons. Jordan Minello (Sweaburg, Ont.) scored 31 seconds into overtime to give the Pioneers a 5-4 win and extend Sacred Heart's unbeaten streak to five games.
Minello had two goals in the game, giving him six goals in the last five games. Drew George (Regina, Sask.), Ben Lake (Calgary, Alb.) and Mitch Nylen (Lawrenceville, Ga.) each had two points as well. George had an assist and the power play goal that forced overtime, while Lake and Nylen each had two assists. The victory snapped Air Force's eight-game winning streak against the Pioneers dating back to March 11, 2011. It was also Sacred Heart's first win of the season in overtime and also when trailing after two periods.
Air Force (11-16-3, 10-9-2 AHC) got on the scoreboard 1:43 into the hockey game. With the Falcons on the power play, Cole Gunner fired a shot from the point that found its way through traffic to the back of the net. Sacred Heart (8-15-6, 7-10-6 AHC) tied the game at 11:15 of the opening period. Zach Luczyk (Charlton, Mass.) put home the rebound of a George shot right through the legs of Falcons goaltender Connor Girard to make the score 1-1. Both teams had 12 shots in the first period and were tied heading into the second period.
The Falcons reclaimed the lead less than two minutes into the second when Kyle Mackey crashed the net to put in the rebound of an A.J. Reid shot, putting Air Force ahead 2-1. Once again, Sacred Heart would level the contest. Ben Lake started a rush out of the Pioneers zone, getting the puck to Kory Kennedy (Midhurst, Ont.). The freshman then threw a cross-ice pass to Minello who fired the puck top shelf and in to make the score 2-2 at 10:07. With 1:38 remaining in the second period, Air Force took a 3-2 lead with a power play goal from Erik Baskin.
Chad Demers extended the Falcons' lead to 4-2 with 8:13 to play in the third period, finding a loose puck amongst a scrum of Air Force and Sacred Heart skaters to put his team up two goals. With 3:45 remaining, the Pioneers nearly got within one when Evan Jasper (Whitby, Ont.) got loose on a shorthanded breakaway. As he was about to shoot the puck, Tyler Ledford hooked him leading to a penalty shot. Jasper took the penalty shot, shooting the puck right over the left pad of Girard to make the score 4-3. It was the first successful penalty shot for Sacred Heart since Rocco Molinaro scored one at Mercyhurst on November 18, 2005.
Sacred Heart then went on the power play with 2:23 remaining when Gunner was called for slashing. Exactly one minute into the man advantage, George roofed a shot from Nylen and Jacob Brightbill (Anneville, Pa.) to tie the game 4-4. Neither team scored in the final minute, leading to overtime. Thirty-one seconds into the extra period, Minello scored from the right wing and a tough angle to give Sacred Heart the 5-4 win. Lake won the faceoff that led to the goal, getting the puck to Nylen who set up Minello for the winning tally.
Air Force outshot Sacred Heart 31-30. The Falcons were 2-for-6 on the power play, while the Pioneers were 1-for-2. Alex Vazzano (Trumbull, Conn.) had 27 saves as Girard had 25 for Air Force.
The two teams complete their weekend series Saturday night at 7:05 p.m.