Pioneers Part Two or Pioneers Deja Vu
What are the chances of playing the Pioneers not for one weekend series but two weekend series? Yes, the Irish played the Pioneers from Denver the weekend of October 13 and 14 and, this past weekend, the Irish played the Pioneers of Sacred Heart University from my home state of Connecticut.
The Pioneers hail from the AHA Conference with nothing to lose, but play their hearts out and see what happens. To quote Digger Phelps on something Ara Parseghian told him “He (Ara) told me (Digger), every game you play is the other teams Super Bowl. Your kids need to be ready, and above being ready, because the other team is coming after you.” With that being said, lets jump into this week’s recap.
Game 1: Thursday Night Hockey In South Bend
The Irish jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead over the Pioneers in the first period, at 62 seconds into the game off the stick of Cal Burke. This was the quick start the Irish were looking for after losing to the Denver Pioneers last week. St. Cyr was filling the net and successfully blocked all seven shots he faced in the 1st Period.
The second period saw the Pioneers increasing the pressure on goal and scored first at 6:02 with the goal by Vito Bavaro to tie the game at 1-1. The Irish, with their great speed, spent a chunk of time in the offensive zone, leading to a goal by Dawson Cook to put the Irish up 2-1. The teams exchanged goals again and the second period ended with the score of 3-2 in the Irish’s favor after a goal by Andrew Oglevie on a Power Play goal.
The third period saw a swing in momentum. The aggressive play of the of the Pioneers startled the Irish and put the Irish on the defensive. The Pioneers offensive push created a goal at 2:56 for Bavaro, his second goal of the night, knotting the game 3-3. SHU scored again, and took their first lead of the game at 4-3.
The Irish came up with the equalizer on a power play goal by Joe Wegwerth to tie the game at 4-4. However, the Pioneers took control from there. Vito Bavaro got his first collegiate hat trick to put the Pioneers ahead for good at 5-4. The Pioneers scored again on the empty-net for a final score of 6-4.
The final stats on the game were as follows: Shots on goal favored the Irish 33-28. Saves went in favor of the Pioneers 29-22. The Irish were 2-3 on the power play while the Pioneers were 0-1.
The three stars were all from SHU: Third Star was Marc Johnston, Second Star was Zach Tsekos, and the First Star was Vito Bavaro.
Coach Jackson Interview
Coach Jackson was asked about his assessment, his response was “we got out worked”, and he took full responsibility for it, and “we didn’t have the discipline with the puck we need to have against the system like that. It was a perfect storm and we were not ready for that.” I asked him, how do you turn the team around with a short clock and get them up for the Friday game? Coach Jackson’s response: “If they are not engaged we have a deeper issues, and I believe we were not mentally prepared to play this game and they were.”
Game 2: Bouncing Back
After the loss to the Pioneers on Thursday night, the Irish came out with something to prove. The Irish had brought back the “FIGHT” in the Fighting Irish coming out with an aggressive attitude and took control of the game early.
At 3:51 Joe Wegwerth lit the lamp for the Irish to give them a 1-0 lead and that would be the score at the first intermission. The Irish aggression was definitely reflected in the first period statistics as the Irish had 14 shots on goal compared to the 5 by the Pioneers.
The second period started the same way as the first. The Irish spent a majority of the second period in the offensive zone that led to the Irish scoring twice in the period. The first goal came from Dawson Cook at 12:54 and Joe Wegwerth’s second goal goal of the game at 16:27.
The team showed great composure after two periods of play and goalie, Cal Morris, let nothing into the net.
The third period was all about defense. The Irish spent a lot of time in their own end, and the persistent Pioneer attack led to a 8:31 by Austin McIlmurray. The Pioneers kept the pressure on Morris, but he refused to let the biscuit past him again despite the Pioneers ended the final period with a flurry of 17 shots on goal.
On an unfortunate note, Jr Left Winger Joe Wegwerth left the game, assisted by the his teammates, with a lower body injury.
The final stats are as follows: Shots on goal in ND’s favor 43-25, Saves were 40-24 SHU’s favor in the loss, and Face Offs 43-22 in ND’s favor. After the weekend series the Irish record is 3-2-1. The Irish are home again this weekend with another Thursday/Friday match-up against Nebraska-Omaha, with both games commencing at 7:35 P.M..