April 10, 2012

Defense, Eisenreich Carry Bucknell Past Penn

from press release

LEWISBURG, Pa. -- No. 18 Bucknell continued its run of suffocating defense on Tuesday, holding Penn without a goal in a settled situation until the closing minutes in an 8-3 victory at chilly Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium. Kyle Feeney backstopped the defense with 10 saves and Billy Eisenreich starred at the other end of the field with three goals to help the Bison improve to 9-4 on the season.

Bucknell has now held five straight opponents in single digits and three of the last four to six goals or less, but this one might have been the best defensive showing yet. The Quakers (1-8), who came into the game with the top-ranked schedule strength in the nation, managed only 24 total shots and just 13 on frame. Penn was held to single goals in the second, third and fourth quarters, and the first two came in transition. John Conneely's tally with 2:33 left in the game was the only goal the Bison conceded out of a set 6-on-6 buildup all night.

At the other end, seven of Bucknell's eight goals were unassisted, including each of the first six. Three of those came in the first period off the sticks off Chase Bailey, Ryan Joseph and Eisenreich. Bailey put back his own rebound after hitting the crossbar on his initial shot. Joseph collected a ground ball five yards off the crease and buried a high shot for his first collegiate goal. Eisenreich made it 3-0 with 3;14 left in the period after grabbing a tough ground ball at the top of the box and then weaving through three defenders before slipping a shot inside the far post.

Peter Burke's lefthanded runner from a sharp angle midway through the second quarter made it 4-0. Penn finally got on the board with 3:58 left in the half when defenseman Anthony Santomo picked up a loose ball on an errant clearing pass, then fed Tim Schwalje for a breakaway.

Penn let Eisenreich stand alone at X for more than a minute, then Eisenreich rolled twice before scoring with just two seconds left to make it 5-1 Bucknell at intermission.

The Quakers pulled within 5-2 when Drew Belinsky scored the only goal of the third quarter for either side, this one also in an unsettled situation after a loose ball was batted around near midfield.

Bucknell regained control with two goals in a span of 65 seconds early in the fourth quarter. Bailey came from behind the cage for his second goal of the game, and then the EMO unit converted when David Dickson fed Billy Mattimore for a 20-yard laser that beat Brian Feeney.

After Penn cut it to 7-3 on the Conneely goal, John Scally picked up the ground ball on the ensuing faceoff and Bucknell called timeout after getting the ball in the box. The Quakers left the net empty on the restart, and right off the whistle Eisenreich simply tossed the ball into the cage from 25 yards out to make it 8-3.

Brian Feeney was the story early for Penn. He made 12 saves in the first half alone and finished with 14 on the night. Kyle Feeney (no relation) made seven of his 10 stops in the second half, including a couple of terrific saves from point-blank range.

In front of Feeney, Mike Huffner led the Bison with four caused turnovers, while Matt Spagnoli and Jason Neithamer had two each. Jackson Place led the close defensemen with three ground balls.

Bucknell finished with a 31-24 shot advantage and won eight of the 14 faceoffs, including a 4-for-6 performance from Ryan Gutowski.

The Bison close out the regular season with two critical Patriot League contests at Lehigh on Saturday and at home against Colgate on Apr. 20. Bucknell, Lehigh and Colgate are all tied atop the Patriot League standings at 3-1.


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