WORCESTER, Mass. - Sophomore Brendan Baker (Edina, Minn.) scored his first collegiate game winner Friday night as the Holy Cross men's hockey team bested Sacred Heart, 3-2, at the Hart Center in Atlantic Hockey action. With their seventh consecutive win, the Crusaders cruise to 14-14-3 overall (13-8-3 Atlantic Hockey). Holy Cross is now 7-0-1 in its last eight, while the Pioneers drop to 4-22-5 overall (4-15-5 Atlantic Hockey). These two teams will conclude their three-game regular season series on Sunday, Feb. 20, at the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Conn, at noon.
With the win the Crusaders clinch a first round bye in the Atlantic Hockey Tournament and will play a best two-out-of-three quarterfinal series on March 11-13. Holy Cross earned the bye as it will finish as the top team in the east-scheduling zone. The top four teams in the Atlantic Hockey regular season standings that remain in the tournament will play the quarterfinal series at home. The Crusaders are currently tied for second place overall.
During the last eight games the Crusaders have outscored their opponents by a 38-14 margin. Also with the win the Crusaders find them selves in an eight-game unbeaten streak and are now tied for the fourth longest in school history. This is also the Crusaders' longest winning streak since the 2005-2006 season when the Crusaders recorded an eight-game winning-streak between Jan. 19-Feb. 10. Their 14 overall wins are the most in a season since it won a school record 27 games in 2005-2006.
Although tonight's action started with a Pioneer goal by Patrick Knowlton just over a minute into the game, Holy Cross put up a an equalizer 12 minutes later, knotting the score at 1-1. The power play goal, scored by sophomore Rob Linsmayer (Winnetka, Ill.), came off a pass from behind the net from sophomore Kyle Fletcher (Kanata, Ontario). Holy Cross outshot Sacred Heart 15-4 in the first.
Holy Cross scored the lone goal in the second period during a power play as senior Everett Sheen (Lethbridge, Alberta) put the puck past Pioneer goalie Steven Legatto, off of a rebound from freshman Shayne Stockton (Rochester, N.Y.). Holy Cross outshot Sacred Heart again in the second, 14-4 and went 1-3 on the power play.
Things got exciting in the third as Holy Cross scored during the power play eight minutes in. Baker scored his game-winning goal from the far left side of the ice, putting it between the legs of Legatto. Freshman Jeffrey Reppucci (Newburyport, Mass.) and Stockton assisted on the goal. Less than a minute later Holy Cross scored again, but had the goal called back. Although Sacred Heart was down 3-1 the Pioneers still had some left in the tank as Eric Delong scored with 10 minutes remaining in the game. The Crusaders completed the final penalty kill of the game with just under a minute to go to hang on to their 3-2 lead.
Senior goalie Adam Roy (Feeding Hills, Mass.) made 13 saves in net for the Crusaders, including several critical saves in the final 10 minutes of the game. Holy Cross took nearly three times as many shots as Sacred Heart did, outshooting the Pioneers 40-15. The Crusaders went 3-7 on the power play while the Pioneers went 0-3.