Holy Cross made a move in the Atlantic Hockey standings with its first four-point league weekend of the season, sweeping Canisius at home by scores of 3-2 and 4-0.
The Crusaders climbed a bit to join a crowded field just behind the top teams in the standings as the Christmas break approaches.
Air Force has parlayed its four-game winning streak into a three-point lead at the top of the pack and Mercyhurst, in second place, has a two-point edge on RIT.
After that, things could not get much tighter.
Just three points separate RIT in third place from UConn in ninth. Holy Cross is in a gang of four with Niagara, Bentley and Canisius. Robert Morris is a point ahead of their group and RIT one in front of that.
The Crusaders outshot Canisius 67-32 for the weekend and turned in a 4-for-9 effort on the power play.
In short, they took it to the Golden Griffins.
“It was the first time in a long time that we played and looked like an inexperienced team,” said Canisius coach Dave Smith on the team’s website after Saturday’s game. “Holy Cross deserves a lot of credit because they played very physical, very poised, and they played together today.”
Senior forward Andrew Cox scored both game-winning goals for the Crusaders, the first on the power play with 2:14 left in the third period on Friday and the second just 1:07 into Saturday’s game.
Freshman goalie Matt Ginn stopped 14 shots for his first career shutout. He had 14 saves on Friday, too.
Holy Cross improved to 5-1 overall and 4-0 in the league at home with the Canisius wins, and is down to one game left before Christmas. The Crusaders play host to Army on Saturday at 4 p.m. on Armed Services Day at the Hart Center.
The Holy Cross players will wear special camouflage jerseys that will be auctioned off. The event is a fundraiser for the Massachusetts Soldiers Legacy Fund, which provides financial assistance for the education of children of Massachusetts service members killed while deployed on Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom.
The Crusaders return to action in the Ledyard National Bank Classic in Hanover, N.H., on Dec 30. They face host Dartmouth on the first night of the tournament and then either Merrimack or St. Lawrence.
They get back to chasing Atlantic Hockey points on Jan. 6 and 7 at home against Air Force.
Game of the Week
Bentley at UConn, Friday
A point in the standings separates the Falcons and Huskies. UConn trails Bentley and three other teams: Niagara, Holy Cross and Canisius. The Huskies started a seven-game homestand with last weekend’s split with RIT.
This is the last game for both teams before their holiday break. UConn plays Army in the first round of its UConn Hockey Classic on Dec. 29. Bentley is off until a Jan. 1 date at Yale, and plays its next league games at home against Robert Morris on Jan. 6 and 7.
Atlantic Hockey power ratings
1. Air Force (9-4-2, 8-2-1 AHA). . . . Fifteen goals were good for two wins over AIC.
2. Mercyhurst (7-7-2, 6-1-2). . . . Max Stang’s 37 saves keyed a 2-1 win over Army.
3. RIT (6-5-2, 5-3-2) . . . Took only 17 shots in its 2-1 win over UConn.
4. Holy Cross (7-7-0, 5-4-0) . . . Beat Canisius 3-2 and 4-0 for its first four-point weekend of the season.
5. Robert Morris (7-6-1, 5-2-1). . . . Colonials have a 4-0-1 record in their last five games.
6. Niagara (4-5-5, 3-2-4). . . . Earned a point in each of last five games, going 2-0-3.
7. UConn (5-8-2, 4-5-1). . . . Cole Schneider assisted on all four goals in the split with RIT last weekend.
8. Bentley (4-8-3, 4-3-2). . . . Freshman defenseman Matt Maher’s goal earned 2-2 tie with Niagara.
9. Canisius (4-8-3, 4-3-2). . . . Griffs have scored two goals or less in each of last nine games.
10. Army (1-7-6, 1-5-4). . . . Four of its last six games have been ties.
11. AIC (3-12-2, 2-7-2). . . Got outscored 15-6 in last two games; at RIT for a pair this weekend.
12. Sacred Heart (1-14-1, 0-10-1). . . . Pioneers are allowing 5.38 goals per game.
Allen Lessels can be reached at email@example.com.