November 15, 2012

Atlantic Hockey Journal: Crusaders can count on Nunn

By Allen Lessels

Holy Cross, led by senior forwards Kyle Fletcher and Brandon Nunn, has the 2012-13 season off to an impressive start. 

Holy Cross senior forward Brandon Nunn is tied for the team lead with five goals. (Photo by Peter Cooke)

The Crusaders will try to keep that start going against a tough challenge this weekend, with RIT coming to town for games on Saturday and Sunday afternoon, both starting at 3:05 p.m.

The Tigers have struggled early on and are coming off a tough weekend.

But here’s the thing: Holy Cross has never beaten RIT in a regular season Atlantic Hockey Association game.

The Crusaders are 0-14-2 in the regular season against the Tigers since RIT joined the league for the 2006-07 campaign. Holy Cross did win a playoff game against RIT in 2009 and is 1-4-0 against the Tigers in the league tournament.

Nunn, Fletcher and their teammates will try to flip that record around this weekend.

Fletcher leads the team in scoring at 5-5-10 and Nunn is right behind at 5-4-9.

Nunn picked up some off-ice honors this week. He was named one of 20 contenders for college hockey’s Senior CLASS Award that recognizes work in the community, classroom, character and competition.

An economics major with a 3.67 grade point average, Nunn started a Power Play Points for Pink program that last year raised $4,000 to support efforts against breast cancer by collecting pledges for every Holy Cross power play goal at home.

On the ice, the Crusaders beat Bentley 4-3 (senior Erik Vos had the game-winner in the third period) and Sacred Heart 6-3 last weekend and their 6-2-0 overall start is their best since 2002-03. They were also 6-2-0 through eight games that year. 

Sophomore goalie Matt Ginn has a .912 save percentage, a 2.72 goals against average and is 6-1-0.

Holy Cross has scored 26 goals and given up the exact same number.

RIT lost a pair of home games last weekend, 5-3 to Mercyhurst and 6-3 to Canisius, and has lost its three league home games. The Tigers had never before lost more than two league home games in a season.

Wayne Wilson’s team played from behind in both games last weekend and eventually tied things up, but could not pull them out.

Against Canisius, the Tigers gave up a goal in the first 12 seconds of the game and another at the 26-second mark of the second period. Still, it was 3-3 entering the third period when Canisius scored three goals, the final two into an empty net.

“We had two bad starts in the first two periods and when we have a (defensive) lapse, the puck is in the back of our net,” said Wilson. “We dug ourselves a hole early but came back and did some good things, not enough however to win. The effort is there, but we have to concentrate more, especially on the defensive end.”

RIT is averaging 3.00 goals a game, just under the 3.20 of Holy Cross, but has allowed 4.33 goals a contest.

The Tigers have dug themselves a bit of a hole in the season, too, and will see what they can do about that this weekend.

Holy Cross has motivation of its own.

Player of the Week

Carsen Chubak, jr. G, Niagara

News flash on Saturday night: Carsen Chubak gave up a goal. He and the Purple Eagles beat Army, 4-1, but Chubak allowed a goal after posting his third straight shutout on Friday night, 5-0, over the Black Knights. Chubak established a team record of 258 minutes and 32 seconds of hockey without being scored upon. Greg Gardiner owned the old mark of 232:38 from the 2000 season.  

Game of the Week

AIC @ Sacred Heart, Saturday

The Yellow Jackets and Pioneers each go into the weekend looking for their first league wins of the season. They will try to get them on Friday night when Sacred Heart is at Army and AIC hosts Bentley. Ideally, in their eyes, they will seek No. 2 against each other on Saturday. 

Power Rankings

1. Niagara (6-2-3, 5-0-0) . . . The Purple Eagles ran their unbeaten streak to seven games. Freshman forward Hugh Turcotte played in his first two games against Army and had two assists in Saturday’s 4-1 win. The Purple Eagles are at Canisius in a Battle of the Bridge game on Friday night. Niagara took five of six points from Canisius last season.

2. Holy Cross (6-2-0, 5-2-0) . . . The Crusaders knocked off Bentley, 4-3, on Friday night and then Sacred Heart, 6-3, on Sunday to pick up fur league points. Holy Cross has RIT in for a pair of afternoon games on Saturday and Sunday.

3. Mercyhurst (3-2-1, 3-1-0) . . . Sophomore forward Daniel Bahntge scored a pair of goals in a 5-3 win at RIT on Friday night and classmate Ryan Misiak assisted on both. Misiak has at least one point in each of Mercyhurst’s six games. The Lakers play games No. 7 and No. 8 this weekend at RPI and are getting near the end of their 11-game road-trip to start the year.

4. Robert Morris (4-3-0, 3-2-0) . . . Freshman forward Greg Gibson had a game-winner with his first career goal in a 4-0 win over Canisius on Friday. . . . Freshman goalie Terry Shafer had a memorable night, too, with a 24-save shutout for his first win. The Colonials are at Niagara on Saturday night.

5. Air Force (3-4-3, 2-1-1) . . . The Falcons split a pair of 5-1 games at Penn State. They won on Friday, but coach Frank Serratore was not at all impressed with how they played and predicted in a post-game press conference that if they didn’t play better Penn State would turn the result around. . . . The Falcons are off until a series at UConn on Nov. 23 and 24.

6. Bentley (3-4-0, 2-2-0) . . . Freshman forward Andrew Gladiuk had two goals in Friday’s 4-3 loss to Holy Cross and is at 5-2-7 for the season. Junior forward Justin Breton had five goals last season and has four so far this year. The Falcons, who have allowed 18 goals in their last four games, are at AIC on Friday and play UConn at home on Saturday. 

7. Army (2-5-1, 2-2-1)  . . . The Black Knights, outscored 9-1 in  pair of games against Niagara last weekend, look to rebound with a home game against Sacred Heart on Friday. The game closes out the season series between the teams. Senior forward Andy Starczewski had a hat trick in a 5-2 Army win on Oct. 19 at West Point. The teams tied the next night at Sacred Heart.

8. Canisius (2-5-3, 1-1-1) . . . The Griffs bounced back quickly from a 4-0 loss to Robert Morris at home on Friday to win a 6-3 game at RIT on Saturday. Kyle Gibson’s goal 12 seconds into the RIT game was the fastest ever to start a game for Canisius. Junior Patrick Sullivan (Derby, N.Y.) had two goals and an assist in the win. Niagara is at Canisius on Friday.

9. RIT (2-6-1, 1-3-1) . . . The Tigers lost a couple of home games to Mercyhurst, 5-3, on Friday and Canisius, 6-3, on Saturday and now have dropped three consecutive home games for the first time since the 2005-06 season. RIT is at Holy Cross for afternoon games on Saturday and Sunday.

10. UConn (2-4-1, 1-3-0) .  . . The Huskies collected their first two wins of the season with decisions over Sacred Heart, 5-3, and Merrimack, 3-1. Senior forward Sean Ambrosie had an assist on the tying goal and then the game-winner against Merrimack. The Huskies had totaled four goals in their first five games.

11. AIC (3-4-1, 0-2-1) . . . The Yellow Jackets had last weekend off and swing back into action on Friday with a home game against Bentley and hit the road to play at Sacred Heart on Saturday. AIC plays home-and-home series against both teams later in the season. They face the Pioneers on Feb. 15 and 16 and then close out the regular season with a set against Bentley on March 1 and 2.

12. Sacred Heart (0-8-1, 0-6-1) . . . The Pioneers play at Army on Friday night and are home against AIC on Saturday. . . . Sacred Heart’s Atlantic Hockey point came thanks to a 4-4 tie with Army on Oct. 20. The Pioneers led that one late before Army tied it with a goal in the last minute. 

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