FAIRFIELD, Conn.- The Sacred Heart University Men's Ice Hockey team continues Atlantic Hockey League play this week when the Pioneers travel to face Mercyhurst beginning Friday, January 10. Puck-drop is set for 7:05 p.m. and can be viewed on FloSports.
Last Time Out... The Pioneers split a two-game homestand against Atlantic Hockey foe Bentley on December 28-29 as the Pioneers tallied their fourth shutout of the year in the first game prevailing 4-0 while the following day SHU was edged 3-2. Senior Vito Bavaro contributed two goals in the shutout victory while sophomore goalie Josh Benson recorded 23 saves in the game as well. In the second game, three goals overpowered the Pioneers as sophomore Austin Magera cashed in two goals for SHU but wasn't enough as the Falcons walked away with 3-2 victory.
Last Meeting... The Pioneers were swept in the last series against Mercyhurst that came on November 16-17 of 2018. The Pioneers were edged in the first game by a final score of 4-3 in which Vito Bavaro tallied two goals. In the second, SHU was shutout by the Lakers as the Pioneers fell 3-0. For the Lakers James Anderson tallied two goals in the victory.
Scouting The Lakers.. Mercyhurst is coming off a two-game sweep that came against Holy Cross on January 3-4 to give the Lakers their fourth straight loss of the season and to make their record now 4-12-1 overall and 2-8-1 in Atlantic Hockey play. Leading the way for the Lakers on the offensive front is sophomore Steven Ipri who has recorded seven goals and eight assists for 15 points which leads the team in points and goals. Redshirt senior Garrett Metcalf guards the net for the Lakers as he has played and started in 11 games this season with a GAA of 3.65 and a save percentage of .900 with a record of 3-6-1. The team averages just over two goals a game with a 2.10 scoring offensive. The team as a whole as well has 14 power-play goals on the year which is 11 short of the Pioneers total of 25.
Cotton The Top Crop.... Senior forward Jason Cotton currently sits sixth in the nation in goals per game and ranks third in overall goals scored this season. The senior has tallied 14 on the year which is a career high for the 6-3 forward. He currently is just one of two collegiate hockey captains as well in the nation that originate from the state of Texas. He still sits a top Atlantic Hockey as the AHA's top goal scorer and scored his 14th goal of the year against Bentley on Dec. 28 in the Pioneers 4-0 shutout to claim the top spot in Atlantic Hockey.
Reaching the National Ranks... For the first time in program history, the Pioneers made the USCHO top 20 poll that was released on Dec. 9 earlier last month. SHU received 56 votes to take the #20 slot overall in the national ranks. SHU held its #20 spot in the Dec. 16 poll and heading into this weeks games, the Pioneers remain as one of the top teams in the nation as the Pioneers received votes in both the USCHO and USA Today Polls this week.
Count on Lee for an Assist...Senior Mike Lee currently has a total of 20 assists on the year for the Pioneers which surpasses his career high of 15 from a season ago. Lee currently sits fourth in the nation in assists per game with 1.07 and sits first in Atlantic Hockey in assists with 20 and sits first in points with 22. Lee contributed an assist in the Pioneers 3-2 loss to Bentley that came on Dec. 29.
Bavaro Bouncing Back....Senior Vito Bavaro broke his two game pointless streak in the Pioneers series against Bentley on Dec. 28-29 as he recorded two-goals in the Pioneers 4-0 shutout on the 28th while he also contributed an assist in SHU's 3-2 loss the following day.
Magera Magic.... Sophomore Austin Magera had a solid showing against Bentley that came on Dec. 28-29 as he tallied two assists in the Pioneers 4-0 shutout in the first game while in the second, he scored the lone two goals for SHU which led to the game ending in a 3-2 loss. Magera on the year has tallied five goals, nine assists for 14 points which include two power-play goals as well. He is coming off an impressive first-year in which he racked up 14 goals, 13 assists for 27 points.
Offensive Power is Showing.....Coming into this weeks matchups, the Pioneers currently rank fourth in the nation in scoring offensive, average close to four goals a game as SHU tallied an average of 3.83. The Pioneers sit right behind top ranked Penn State who the Pioneers tacked on four goals against the Nittany Lions in a tight 5-4 loss that came on October 12. Penn State currently averages 4.05 goals a game this season.
Benson Tabbed Atlantic Hockey Goalie of the Month... Sacred Heart University Men's Ice Hockey sophomore goalie Josh Benson was named Atlantic Hockey Goalie of the Month for his play during December. This is the first monthly award Benson has received in his career. During the month, Benson tallied a record of 4-1-0 during the month which included two shut-outs one against Robert Morris on December 7 when SHU prevailed 6-0 and one in the team's most recent set against Bentley on December 28 when the Pioneers won 4-0. During the five games played, the sophomore tallied a GAA of 1.41 and a save percentage of .944. So far this season Benson has recorded a 12-7-1 record with a GAA of 2.19 which is fourth best in Atlantic Hockey. Meanwhile, he has compiled a save percentage of .921 in his sophomore season which also ranks fourth in the league.