FAIRFIELD, Conn. — Junior co-captain Matt Scherer notched a hat trick to lead sixth-seeded Connecticut to a 4-1 upset victory over Sacred Heart on Friday night in the quarterfinals of the Atlantic Hockey playoffs. Also guiding the team in the win was sophomore goaltender Brad Smith, who broke the school record for saves with 52.
The Huskies took an early lead in the first period with two goals by Scherer, who scored the team’s first goal on an off-balance shot in the right faceoff circle at 5:12, taking feeds from sophomore Charles Solberg and senior co-captain Chris Uber on the play.
At 13:46, Scherer notched his second tally of the game on a power play. Freshman Chris Myhro took the initial shot from the center of the right circle and Scherer tipped it in to make the lead 2-0.
With less than two minutes remaining in the opening stanza, Sacred Heart cut the lead to one with a goal by Peter Ferraro. Erik Roos won the puck off the boards for the Pioneers and found Ferraro open to slip the puck in the five-hole and tally Sacred Heart’s first goal of the night.
But the Huskies bounced the lead back to two with the only goal in the second period. Junior Scott McDougall lit the lamp for the Huskies with a power-play goal from five feet out on the left side. McDougall took long passes from defensemen Sean Erickson and Smith to complete the play and make the lead 3-1.
Scherer’s final goal in the third period was an empty-netter at 18:54 to put the Huskies up 4-1, which held up as the final score.
The Pioneers struggled all night on the power play, coming up empty on 10 opportunities. The Connecticut defense sank in defensively in the third as Smith turned away shot after shot. Smith made 21 saves in the final period to bring his total to a record-breaking 52.
The loss was just the Pioneers’ second at home this season, both coming at the hands of the Huskies. SHU ends the year 21-12-2.
UConn advances to the semifinal round of the Atlantic Hockey playoffs next weekend in Worcester, Mass., at Holy Cross.