November 30, 2013

College Wraparound: Holy Cross reels off upset of No. 7 BC

By Joshua Kummins

The Crusaders jumped out to an early lead before hanging for a 5-4 win over the vaunted Eagles. (Photo: Dave Arnold/New England Hockey Journal)

CHESNTUT HILL, Mass. -- There was certainly no Thanksgiving hangover for the Holy Cross Crusaders on Friday afternoon.

A strong offensive showing over the first 40 minutes, including three goals in the second period, propelled the visitors to a thrilling upset over the No. 7 Boston College Eagles, 5-4, at Kelley Rink.

It was BC's first loss to an Atlantic Hockey foe since the conference's inception in 2003, and marked the first time Holy Cross defeated BC since 1946. BC had not lost to a non-conference opponent at home in over two years, since a 3-1 loss to Denver on Oct. 14, 2011.

"It's pretty big," Holy Cross head coach Paul Pearl said. "They are an excellent team and an excellent program. They do things right, the way we'd like to model ourselves. To be able to come here and beat them is pretty special."

The Crusaders struck for a pair of quick goals just past the midway mark of the first period to take a 2-0 lead. At 12:24, hometown sophomore blue liner Joe McNamara fired a wrister from just inside the offensive blue line that was tipped by rookie center Mike Barrett for his third-career goal.

McNamara, and his older brother Mike who did not see action in the game, are Chestnut Hill natives and grew up outside the back gates of the BC campus on Commonwealth Avenue. The McNamara family numbered about 15 for the contest - a group which included parents John and Katie who are both BC alums.

"It was pretty cool," the younger McNamara said following the game. "I got a lot of déjà vu when I started in warm-ups. But to get the win, it hasn't really sunk in yet. It was pretty exciting in the locker room, looking around where I learned how to skate (at two years old). To have all of my family here to see it too was pretty special."

Less than one minute later at 13:19, sophomore Castan Sommer (Shrewsbury, Mass.) drive hard to the net and pushed one by BC rookie stopper Thatcher Demko, who was making his first appearance in five games after a shoulder injury.

The Eagles were able strike back and halve the lead at 14:53 as senior Kevin Hayes scored his seventh goal of the season on a rush up the wing, firing a wrister from the middle of the circle.

Holy Cross rode the wave of offense in the second period, scoring three more times to take full command of the game in hostile territory, despite a 12-8 shots on goal disadvantage.

Crusader senior assistant captain Adam Schmidt roofed a high glove-side wrister on Demko for his third goal of the season and the 40th of his career eight minutes into the second. With that marker, he takes over sole possession of tenth place on the program's all-time Division I goal scoring list.

Barrett potted his second of the day at 12:09, before former Bay State Breaker Matt Vidal jumped a step ahead of the BC defense and fired a wrister under the arm of Demko at the 16:53 mark.

The Eagles staged a three-goal comeback in the final stanza, but could not pull any closer than the 5-4 final score. Freshman Ryan Fitzgerald fired a soft shot between the wickets of Holy Cross junior Matt Ginn at 6:57, before junior Michael Sit and Hayes took passes in the slot for goals in the 16th minute.

Despite the loss, junior Johnny Gaudreau registered the primary assist to Hayes to continue a nine-game point streak (9-8=17).

Ginn, who ranks second in the school's Division I goaltending record books, made 34 saves, including 26 over the final two periods to earn his fourth win of the year and the team's first non-conference win of the season. 

"In the earlier games in conference we had, we were right there," Ginn said. "But we just seemed to have that lapse. ... We just stuck to our game plan even when things got hectic. That was a great team win."

Northeastern 1, Western Michigan 1 (OT)

Rookie Dalen Hedges scored the lone goal in a shootout and junior Clay Witt made 30 saves to propel the Huskies (8-5-1) to the Shillelagh Tournament title game at Compton Family Ice Arena in South Bend, Ind. after a 1-1 tie with the Broncos (5-5-3). John Stevens scored NU's lone goal of regulation just eight seconds into the second period.

New Hampshire 6, Colorado College 2

In the opener of a two-game series at Colorado Springs World Arena, senior Nick Sorkin potted a pair of goals and junior Casey DeSmith (Rochester, N.H.) made 31 saves for the Wildcats (8-7-1) downed the mightily struggling Tigers (1-9-2). The 'Cats solid top line of senior Dalton Speelman, junior Grayson Downing and sophomore Dan Correale combined for two goals and three helpers, while four of the six defensemen also found the scoresheet in continuing a nine-game unbeaten streak against CC.

Vermont 3, Maine 2

Rookie Chris Muscoby scored the game-winner at 17:11 of the third period to lift the Catamounts (6-5-1) to a 3-2 defeat of the Black Bears (6-5-1) in a non-conference contest between the two Hockey East foes at Gutterson Fieldhouse. Sophomore Brody Hoffman made double-digit stops in each period, totaling 32 for the game.

Bentley 4, Air Force 2

It was a two-goal night for junior Brett Switzer as Bentley (5-7-0, 4-2-0 Atlantic Hockey) won the opening round of the battle of the Falcons, snapping host Air Force's (7-5-1, 4-2-0) six-game home unbeaten streak at Cadet Ice Arena. Switzer leveled BU at 2-2 at the 13:53 mark of the middle period, before scoring the game-winner with less than four minutes remaining in regulation.

Mercyhurst 6, American International 3

Freshman Ty Reidenbach continued to provide the Yellow Jackets (3-6-0, 3-3-0 AHA) very solid goaltending with 44 saves, but it was not enough in the opener of an Olympia Sports Center weekend series against Mercyhurst University Lakers (6-7-1, 4-1-0). Senior Jon Puskar led the AIC offense with a goal and an assist, while junior Alexander MacMillan scored his team-leading sixth goal.

Canisius 3, Connecticut 1

Sophomore Shawn Pauly scored the visitor's lone goal as the Huskies (4-5-1, 3-2-0 AHA) dropped a tough decision to the Canisius Golden Griffins (4-7-0, 3-3-0) at Buffalo Sports Arena. Senior Matt Grogan made 19 saves in defeat for UConn.

RIT 5, Sacred Heart 2                         

The Pioneers (4-9-0, 3-4-0 AHA) could not close any further than a one-goal differential as the Tigers (3-7-2, 2-3-0) earned the league victory at Milford, Conn. Ice Pavilion. Brooks School product Mitch Nylen continued his solid start with his third goal of the year from the blue line, while second-year Alex Vazzano (Trumbull, Conn.) kept SHU in the game with 32 stops.

Twitter: @JoshuaKummins