FAIRFIELD, Conn.- The Sacred Heart University Men's Ice hockey team returns home to kick-off a two game home stretch against Atlantic Hockey rival Niagara beginning Saturday, Feb 15 at 1:05 p.m. On the following day, the Pioneers will honor its four seniors for the teams senior day. Puck-drop is also set for 1:05 p.m. on Sunday, Feb 16.
Last Time Out... The Pioneers fell to AIC on Tuesday, Feb. 11 by a final score of 6-2. Sophomore Austin Magera and junior Jordan Kaplan each tallied a goal for the Pioneers in the loss. With the loss, AIC claims the top spot in the Atlantic Hockey standings with 49 points.
Last Meeting... SHU swept the Purple Eagles on the road early in the year as the two teams met on Oct. 25 and 26 of 2019. SHU took the first game in convincing fashion shutting out Niagara by a score of 4-0 followed by a 3-1 victory the next day to complete the two game sweep. During the two game stretch, senior Austin McIlmurray tallied three goals while senior Jason Cotton nailed two short-handed goals in the second game.
Scouting The Purple Eagles.. Niagara is coming off a two-game sweep of last place Mercyhurst that came on Feb. 7 and 8. The Purple Eagles shutout the Lakers in the first game by a score of 3-0 while defeating them in the second game by a final score of 4-2. Niagara is led by redshirt junior Jack Billings who currently leads the team in goals with 10 and in points with 19. Guarding the net for Purple Eagles is junior Brian Wilson who tallies a record of 4-9-2, GAA of 2.59 and a save percentage of .919. This season, Niagara currently sits in eighth place with an overall record of 8-16-4 and a conference record of 8-10-4.
Pioneers Put on the Pressure on the Power-Play .... The Pioneers currently sit a top the nation's leader in power-play percentage as SHU currently sits third in the nation on the man-advantage opportunities this season. SHU tallies a power-play percentage of 27.2 going 34-125 on the year. Senior Austin McIlmurray leads the way with 12 power-play goals on the year which currently leads the nation.
Dominating the State... The Pioneers claimed the first ever CT Ice Tournament Championship on Sunday, January 26 as SHU defeated #17 Quinnipiac by a final score of 4-1. The Pioneers first had to get by fellow ECAC member Yale in which SHU racked up four goals in the opening period to take a commanding 4-0 lead and eventually defeating the Bulldogs by a final score of 6-2. Senior Jason Cotton was named MVP of the entire tournament as he tallied four points with two goals and two assists.
Just Give Lee and Tuck An Assist... Senior defenseman Mike Lee and first-year Braeden Tuck are currently the top assist leaders for the Pioneers this season Lee leads the way with 27 assists which makes his point total to 31 on the year. Tuck currently has assisted on 22 assists which racks up his point total 26 on the year.
Hitting the Top 20.....For the fourth time this year, the Pioneers hit the USCHO top 20 poll as SHU received a total of 92 votes to land the #20 spot in the poll. SHU also recieved votes in the USA Today Poll which SHU earned two points in the poll.
Cotton and Lee Tabbed Walter Brown Award Semifinalists..... Seniors Jason Cotton and Mike Lee were named semifinalists for the 68th Annual Walter Brown Award as announced by the Gridiron Club of Greater Boston. The award is presented to the best division one american born collegiate hockey player in New England. The nation's oldest nationally-recognized college hockey honor, the Walter Brown Award was established in 1953 by the members of the 1933 Massachusetts Rangers, the first American team ever to win the World Championship Tournament. The Gridiron Club will announce the finalists and winner of the 68th Walter Brown Award in March, following league playoffs and before the start of NCAA Tournament play. The award will be presented to the winner at the New England College Hockey Writers' Awards Brunch on May 3 at Prince Restaurant in Saugus.
Offensive Power is Shining.....Coming into this weeks matchup, the Pioneers currently rank second in the nation in scoring offense as SHU reaches four goals a game as the Pioneers tally an average of 3.93. The Pioneers sit right behind the number two team in the nation in North Dakota who tallied an average of 4.16 goals per game.
Juniors Running The Offense..... This season so far, the Pioneers junior class consisting of Matt Tugnutt, Jordan Kaplan, co-captain Marc Johnstone, Marcus Joseph, Michael Gilroy, Evan Wisocky, Alex Bates, Marcel Godbout and Max Luukko currently lead the team in points this season tallying 107 of the Pioneers 320 total points. The class also leads the team in assists this year racking up a total of 76. Leading the class this year is assistant captain Matt Tugnutt who currently has a career high 13 goals with 14 assists for a total of 27 points.