WATERTOWN, Conn. - Sacred Heart University senior goaltender Andrew Bodnarchuk made 29 saves to record his first career shutout as the UConn Huskies were shutout 2-0 at the hands of the Pioneers Friday night from The Taft School in Watertown, Conn. The loss drops the Huskies to 2-5-3 on the season while Sacred Heart improved to 4-5-2.
The neutral site game was played in front of a sold out 850 fans at the Taft School's Odden Rink in honor of the late Jason Pagni, a fixture in Connecticut hockey circles. A 1989 graduate of Avon Old Farms, Pagni spent his life advocating, developing and working with players and parents on all levels of hockey in the state of Connecticut. Prior to the game, there was a ceremonial puck drop with Pagni's wife and daughters.
The Pioneers jumped out in front in the early minutes of the first period and produced the only goal they would need on the night. Senior Ben Lake was able to win a puck battle behind the net and get a pass out front to classmate Drew George who shoveled his shot past UConn goaltender Rob Nichols (Dallas, Texas) at the left post for his fourth of the season a 1-0 lead at 3:26.
The Sacred Heart defense put the clamps on from there in front of Bodnarchuk, limiting the Huskies chances getting sticks and bodies in front of plenty of shots. The Huskies got the game's first power play, just 22 seconds after the George goal when Zach Luczyk was called for interference. UConn got a pair of shots on net with the extra skater and finished the first period with a 14-9 edge on shots but couldn't crack the Pioneer netminder.
In the second period, the Huskies had three power play opportunities but could not get the puck past Bodnarchuk. UConn's Nichols turned in 10 saves in the second to keep it a one-goal game but the Huskies couldn't find an offensive answer in the third. UConn pulled Nichols with just over a minute to play for the extra attacker but SHU's Erlich Doerksen broke up a pass and Justin Danforth fed Luczyk up the left boards into the neutral zone where he was able to glide up the wing lifting a shot in the empty net for the clincher at 19:18, 2-0. It was Luczyk's team-leading fifth goal of the season.
The shutout loss was the first for the Huskies this season and the first since falling to Robert Morris in the Atlantic Hockey quarterfinals last season, 3-0. UConn was shutout three times last season; one came at the hands of the Pioneers, 3-0, in the UConn Holiday Tournament at the XL Center. The win is the second all-time for Sacred Heart against a Hockey East opponent. Their other victory came in last season's opener, 2-1, over then No. 1 ranked UMass Lowell.
UConn's Nichols made 27 saves in taking the loss.
The Huskies will be back at home in the XL Center for three-straight next week, starting Tuesday night, November 18th when they host Rensselaer at 7:05 pm.