Perhaps its four games against a couple of the top teams in Atlantic Hockey best sum up the kind of first half it was for Holy Cross.
The Crusaders, tightening up nicely on defense, allowed a total of seven goals in a pair of games against Air Force and a couple more against RIT.
Problem was, Holy Cross totaled only a single point out of the four games.
“It’s no secret,” said coach Paul Pearl. “We can’t score.”
At least they haven’t scored a whole lot to date.
That makes it especially good news that a young defensive group -- Pearl has primarily been playing two freshmen with three sophomores and junior Mark Znutas -- has teamed with freshman goalie Thomas Tysowsky to put up some of the best numbers in the league.
Holy Cross has allowed 2.53 goals a game, which is the second-best mark in the league behind RIT and nearly a goal a game better than the 3.42 it gave up last year. At the other end of the ice, though, the Crusaders are putting up only 2.12 goals a game, the eighth-highest total in the league and off their 2.79 of a year ago.
“Like anything else, we’re trying to find our way,” Pearl said. “I don’t think it’s for a lack of players who can score.”
Getting junior Jordan Cyr back should help. He was out at the end of the second semester with an injury.
And Pearl likes how things are shaping up for the second half.
“It looks like Air Force, RIT and Mercyhurst might run away with it a little bit at the top, but I think spots four through seven are up for grabs,” he said. “I think we’re very strongly in that group. We said at the beginning we wanted to get into that top four and I think that is a really good goal for us.”
Air Force at Sacred Heart, Saturday and Sunday
The Falcons take on the Pioneers in the only league series of the weekend. Both will be looking for some separation. Air Force is tied at the top of the standings with Mercyhurst, a single point in front of RIT. Sacred Heart and AIC are knotted at the bottom of the league, one point behind Connecticut.
Around Atlantic Hockey
The Yellow Jackets get an extra week off. They return to action with a pair of games at Mercyhurst on Jan. 8 and Jan. 9. … AIC is averaging 1.76 goals a game, which is ninth-best in the league and has given up 3.71, which is eighth.
The Falcons are coming off a split with Mercyhurst that snapped their unbeaten streak at 10 games. … They swept four games from Sacred Heart, this weekend’s opponent, last season. The teams split a pair of games in 2007-08. … The Air Force penalty kill is among the nation’s best at 90.7 for the season.
The Black Knights have won home games against Canisius, 4-1 and 7-2, and Sacred Heart, 2-1 and 4-2, for their first four-game winning streak since the 2007-08 season. … After a home game against Union on Saturday, they go on the road to face Sacred Heart for two more and then move on to Canisius for another pair.
Freshman forward Dan Koudys had a pair of goals, including the game-winner with 5:01 left in the third period to give Bentley a 4-3 win over Connecticut on Oct. 23. The two teams meet again Tuesday night in the first round of the Toyota UConn Classic. … Bentley was 1-2-1 against the Huskies last season.
The Golden Griffins are averaging 3.40 goals a game to lead Atlantic Hockey and they have three of the league’s top six scorers. Junior forward Pat Conacher is first at 13-14-27, junior Vincent Scarsella third at 8-15-23 and senior defenseman Carl Hudson is tied for fifth at 6-13-19.
The Huskies play host to Bentley in the nightcap of the Toyota UConn Classic on Tuesday night. Massachusetts and Union meet in the first game of the tournament. … UConn is 2-12-2 overall and at 2-8-2 in Atlantic Hockey is one point in front of AIC and Sacred Heart in the standings.
The Crusaders will meet one Hockey East team, and possibly two, this weekend. They face UMass-Lowell on Saturday in the first round of the Ledyard National Bank event in Hanover, N.H., on Saturday. They will play ether Northeastern or host Dartmouth of the ECAC on Sunday.
The Lakers play Minnesota-Duluth in their first game in the Catamount Cup at Vermont on Saturday. They will play either host Vermont or Alabama-Huntsville on Sunday. … Mercyhurst, tied for first in the league with Air Force, has played two more league games than the Falcons and four more than RIT, which is a point back.
The Tigers will look to get back to their winning ways in a pair at Minnesota State-Mankato on Friday and Saturday night. … Their 10-game unbeaten streak was snapped with a 3-2 loss to Niagara in front of a full house at Ritter Arena in their last outing.
Against Air Force, the Pioneers will try to build off the 4-1 win over Dartmouth they posted in their last game before the break. They had gone seven games without a win before that. . . . These are the first of four games between the teams in the second half. Sacred Heart closes the regular season in Colorado Springs.
Allen Lessels can be reached at email@example.com.