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.