January 24, 2014

Atlantic Hockey: Turnaround weekend for Holy Cross

By Allen Lessels

Holy Cross took a step in the right direction last week with a pair of wins at Niagara, 4-2 and 3-2.

The Crusaders didn’t exactly blow up the scoreboard, but the seven goals for the weekend were the exact same number they had scored in their previous six games – all losses. They have struggled to score all season and the four goals on Friday night were their most since a 5-4 win at Boston College on Nov. 29.

Holy Cross now takes its third and final shot at Bentley in the regular season. The Falcons beat the Crusaders, 3-2 in overtime, at Bentley on Nov. 16 and then beat them again, 3-2, in a Frozen Fenway game on Dec. 28.

The Crusaders led the first Bentley game 2-1 after two periods and the teams were tied 2-2 with a period to go at Fenway and the Falcons came up with the win each time.

The teams meet at the Hart Center at Holy Cross on Saturday night.

The Crusaders followed a bit of a trend with last weekend’s sweep at Niagara: Home ice hasn’t been all that friendly to them thus far.

“It’s been an upside down year here,” said Holy Cross coach Paul Pearl. “But we’ll figure it out at the end.”

The Crusaders have only one win in 10 games at home – they are 1-7-2 – and that one came way back on Nov. 1 in a 4-3 decision over Sacred Heart.

Holy Cross jumped a couple of spots in the Atlantic Hockey standings to ninth with last week’s sweep.

Bentley is 10-1-3 since early November and continues to chase Mercyhurst for the top spot in the league.

“They have good players and they’re well coached,” Pearl said. “They’ve done a nice job the last two, three, four years bringing in good players and they’ve coached them up. They’re dangerous. On the back end, the (Steve) Weinstein kid makes the power play go. They’re a very solid team and they’re getting good goaltending. All that stuff can obviously take a team a long way.”

Bentley took three points from Canisius last weekend to close within two points of Mercyhurst, which tied a pair of games with Connecticut.

Mercyhurst is not waiting around, though. The Lakers rallied late and got this weekend off to a good start with a 3-1 win at Canisius on Thursday night.

All of the game’s scoring came in the last three and a half minutes.

A Canisius power play goal by Kyle Gibbons opened the scoring with 3:23 left in the third period.

Mercyhurst junior forward Daniel Bahntge scored 32 seconds later to tie it and then added the game-winner with 57 seconds to play. Ryan Misiak finished it with an empty net goal with 18 seconds left.

The teams play again at Mercyhurst on Saturday night.

Player of the Week

Jordan Ruby, jr., G, RIT

Ruby made 35 saves for his first career shutout in a 6-0 blanking of Army on Friday. He stopped 37 shots in a 4-3 win on Saturday to complete the Tiger sweep and improve his record for the season to 3-8-2.

Game of the week

Bentley at Holy Cross, Saturday

The Falcons will be out to make it a season sweep of the three-game series. Senior forward Brett Gensler’s hat trick led Bentley to a 3-2 win over Holy Cross in a Frozen Fenway game on Dec. 28 and Bentley also beat Holy Cross, 3-2 in overtime, on Nov. 16.

Atlantic Hockey Power Rankings
  1. Mercyhurst (14-9-4, 12-1-3) – There was little to choose between the Lakers and UConn in Erie in 2-2 and 3-3 ties. Each team was 0-for-3 on the power play on Friday and 2-for-3 on Saturday.
  2. Bentley (12-8-3, 10-3-3) – Sophomore forward Andrew Gladiuk scored a pair of power play goals and added an assist to lead the Falcons to a 4-1 win at Canisius in the series opener. The teams tied 2-2 on Sunday. Bentley is at Holy Cross on Saturday.
  3. UConn (10-7-4, 8-4-3) – Freshman forward Brent Norris scored both goals in UConn’s 2-2 tie at Mercyhurst on Friday. The teams tied again, this time 3-3, on Saturday. UConn is at AIC on Friday and the teams play in Storrs on Saturday.
  4. Air Force (14-6-4, 9-3-3) – Junior forward Cole Gunner had three goals and an assist and freshman goalie Chris Truehl ran his record to 5-0-0 with two wins to lead the Falcons over Sacred Heart, 6-4 and 5-0. Truehl stopped 18 shots in the shutout.
  5. Canisius (8-13-2, 7-7-2) – Junior forward Tyler Wiseman’s shorthanded goal put Canisius up 2-0 in the second period on Sunday against Bentley, but the Golden Griffins had to settle for a 2-2 tie. Three of Wiseman’s four goals are shorties.
  6. RIT (8-11-3, 7-7-1) – Senior forward Michael Colavecchia scored three goals for the Tigers and had both game-winners in a sweep of Army, 6-0 and 4-3. RIT is at Niagara on Friday and the teams play at RIT on Saturday.
  7. Robert Morris (6-13-3, 6-6-3) – Sophomore Zac Lynch’s shorthanded goal helped Robert Morris to a 5-2 win over AIC on Saturday night. Lynch has three of his team’s five shorties this year.
  8. Holy Cross (6-15-2, 5-9-2) – The Crusaders swept their first weekend series and won consecutive games for the first time since early November with 4-2 and 3-2 wins at Niagara. Friday’s win was the Crusaders first league victory since Nov 22.
  9. Niagara (5-14-3, 5-7-3) – The Purple Eagles outshot Holy Cross 43-27 and 40-24 in its weekend games, but lost both contests. Niagara was 0-for-6 on the power play each game. Niagara has a home and home series with RIT this weekend.
  10. AIC (6-15-1, 5-9-1) – Freshman goalie Hunter Leisner made 38 saves in his team’s 4-4 tie at Robert Morris on Friday night. Freshman defenseman Dominic Racobaldo and senior forward Blake Peake each had a power play goal for the Yellow Jackets.
  11. Sacred Heart (6-18-0, 5-12-0) – Freshman forward Jeff Carroll had two of Sacred Heart’s goals in a 6-4 loss at Air Force on Friday. The Pioneers are off this weekend and play a pair of games at Niagara next weekend.
  12. Army (3-18-0, 3-14-0) – Army’s top two scorers are freshmen and its next three are sophomores. The Black Knights play an exhibition at the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ont., on Saturday and are at Robert Morris on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1.

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