Sacred Heart, Magnus, Take Strides Towards Breakout Year
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. In the second period, Sacred Heart was holding a 2-0 lead over Connecticut, and the Pioneers were on the power play and ready to take control of the game. But the puck was bobbled at the blue line, leading to a 2-on-1 shorthanded chance. Then a Pioneer player lost an edge, tumbling to the ground.
The situation changed from a potential 3-0 lead to a shorthanded breakaway attempt that could bring UConn to within one goal.
The last defense was Brett Magnus, Sacred Heart’s junior goaltender.
“it was kind of an 'Oh s—- moment.' Luckily it stayed out but that’s one I remember,” Magnus said.
It was one of 44 saves Magnus made that night; he was the sole reason Sacred Heart defeated the Huskies. After the save, the Pioneers went ahead 3-0 and Magnus allowed just one goal as Sacred Heart defeated their old Atlantic Hockey foes for the third year in a row.
And it was just one of the many game-saving stops Magnus made that night, as his efforts kept the Huskies’ potent offense from frequently finding the pack of the net.
“Brett was superb tonight,” Sacred Heart coach C.J. Marottolo said. “He was big in the net, he was strong, he was seeing the pucks, his rebound control was really good and, as always, you’re going to need your goalie to make a big save in a big moment. It was 3-1, the kid had an open net and Brett made an unbelievable save, and our bench just they thrived off of that. He was our best player tonight.”
The Pioneers took a 2-0 lead early, but the Huskies—backed by talented players like Max Letunov—pushed in the third period. UConn’s Spencer Naas also had a great chance on a late rebound in the third, but again Magnus made the save. The Huskies pressed from that moment, forcing two Pioneers into the box. With their net empty, the Huskies were on a 6-on-3 for several seconds, but Sacred Heart kept the puck out of the net.
“[If] on his game and he’s really focused, it does a lot for our guys. We knew if we did our job he was going to stand tall,” Marattolo said.
Magnus’ 44 saves were a season high — he made just 38 stops in a previous weekend series against Northeastern combined. This is the third season Magnus has been pegged as the starter, and he finished his sophomore and freshmen year with save percentages of .901 and .912, respectively.
“Especially today I was able to watch [the puck] in my glove or watch it off my blocker stick and into the corner, so we work on that a lot and I think I’m improving there,” Magnus said.
The potential has always been there — Magnus made a career-high 64 stops against Penn State as a freshman, holding the powerful offense to just three goals. But on Saturday night, Magnus looked a little different.
“He really broke out in my eyes tonight. He became a real leader in the net tonight for us,” Marattolo said. “He was out in his crease, he’s using his size to his advantage more, he’s a big kid and at times I’d like him to be more out in front of the blue paint, and he was. He played like that today. And his rebound control I thought was really good. Those are the two things that I think he’s really worked on and I think it’s paid dividends for him.”
The Pioneers are a young team; four of their leading scorers — and six of seven players who appeared in all 37 games — graduated. And as for any young team, goaltending has to be the biggest strength.
“When you know you can do it, your guys have confidence in you and they start to play better too,” Magnus said.