October 27, 2011

Atlantic Hockey Journal: Holy Cross vaults to head of class

by Allen Lessels

Defenseman Jeffrey Reppucci of Holy Cross (photo: Peter Cooke)

One early season win, of course, does not a successful hockey season make.

But that’s not going to keep Crusader Nation from feeling a major sense of pride and accomplishment as a result of a 5-4 Holy Cross win on Saturday night at No. 7-ranked Boston University.

The Crusaders will try to feed off the tasty triumph, their first over a ranked team since they knocked off No. 3 Minnesota, 4-3 in overtime, in the NCAA tournament in 2006.

Holy Cross evened its series history with BU at one game apiece.

“For us to be able to play with them and get a win on the road against a quality opponent early in the year, is great for team confidence,” said Holy Cross coach Paul Pearl. “It helps guys buy into what we’re talking about, helps them buy into playing our systems. Big wins are big wins.”

Columnist Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe chimed in on this big win:

“One of the great upsets in local sports history flew under the radar Saturday night when the Holy Cross hockey team beat Boston University, 5-4, at Agganis Arena,” Shaughnessy opined.

Pearl chuckled: “Dan’s a proud alum. He probably wanted to crow a little.”

Holy Cross scored three goals on six power play chances against BU. Sophomore Adam Schmidt scored two of them and junior defenseman Brendan Baker had the third, which ended up being the game-winner.
Baker is picking up more power play time with the graduation of Mark Znutas.

“He can really shoot the puck,” Pearl said.

Baker has three career goals and two of them have been game-winners.

Freshman goalie Matt Ginn made 27 saves for the win.

The Crusaders, 2-1-0 overall and 1-0-0 in Atlantic Hockey, get right back at it with another major test at Connecticut on Thursday night and then are off until games at Niagara on Nov. 4 and 5.

The BU win not only gave the Crusaders a confidence boost, it started a stretch of five straight, and seven of eight, games on the road in fine fashion.

“I don’t think playing seven of eight on the road is a bad thing,” Pearl said. “It certainly helps bond a team. They get to know each other and joke around with each other. They get time on the bus together. Other than missing my daughter’s soccer games, those road trips are a good thing.”

Make that a great thing when they bring results like the BU win.

Game of the Week

Sacred Heart at AIC, Friday

Last year, AIC finished last place in the Atlantic Hockey regular-season standings, one point behind Sacred Heart. The Yellow Jackets won two of their three games with Sacred Heart a year ago and both teams will try to get an edge out of the gate.

Each team is looking for its first win and the Pioneers get their first shot at an Atlantic Hockey rival. For the Yellow Jackets, Friday is the only home game in their first 10 contests and they head out to play at Union on Saturday night.

Atlantic Hockey power ratings

1. Holy Cross (2-1-0, 1-0-0 AHA) . . . Crusaders vault to the head of the class with 5-4 win at Boston University.

2. Air Force (3-2-1, 2-0-0) . . . Falcons take three points at Alabama-Huntsville.

3. RIT (1-2-1, 0-1-1) . . . Tough weekend for Tigers with losses to Canisius, 3-1, and Union, 5-0.

4. UConn (2-2-1, 1-0-0) . . . Showdown with Holy Cross up next for Huskies.

5. Canisius (1-2-0, 1-0-0). . . . First win a 3-1 decision over RIT.

6. Niagara (0-2-2, 0-1-1) . . . Purple Eagle ties are good ones, with RIT and Union.

7. Robert Morris (2-3-0, 0-1-0) . . . Colonials get a split with Quinnipiac.

8. Army (0-3-1, 0-1-0) . . . Will try to build on a 2-2 tie with Colgate on the Cape.

9. Mercyhurst (0-4-0, 0-0-0) . . . Lakers host RIT Friday, at Cornell on Saturday.

10. Bentley (1-4-0, 1-0-0) . . .Picked up first win, 7-3, at Sacred Heart on Tuesday.

11. AIC (0-5-0, 0-1-0) . . . Yellow Jackets host Sacred Heart Friday, at Union on Saturday.

12. Sacred Heart (0-5-0, 0-0-0) . . . Looking for first win at AIC on Friday.

Allen Lessels can be reached at feedback@hockeyjournal.com.