Men's Hockey Ties First-Place Mercyhurst, 5-5

Kyle Atkins

WORCESTER, Mass. ­– The Crusaders had five different goal scorers and 13 different players with points as the Holy Cross men's hockey team tied first-place Mercyhurst, 5-5, on Saturday evening at the Hart Center in Atlantic Hockey action. With the tie, the Crusaders are now 10-11-2 overall (8-6-2 Atlantic Hockey), while the Lakers are 14-9-3 overall (11-3-3 Atlantic Hockey). Holy Cross leaves the for the road after going 0-1-1 in the two-game regular season series as Mercyhurst won on Friday by a 3-2 score in overtime.

Holy Cross came out physical early in the first period and started off the game putting the Lakers on their heels. At 9:04 the Crusaders were put on the power play but were unable to capitalize against the Mercyhurst defenders. In the dangerous minute after the power play, Mercyhurst's junior forward Grant Blakey made a quick backhand move through the slot and put the puck past the right pad of Holy Cross' sophomore goaltender Derek Kump (Falmouth, Maine). The goal was assisted by Blakey's linemate, freshman forward Nardo Nagtzaam. The Crusaders' junior forward Brandon Nunn (Fairport, N.Y.) responded at 15:02 with a hard backhand shot that snuck in the five-hole past the Lakers' senior goaltender Max Strang. The goal was assisted by junior forward Rob Linsmayer (Winnetka, Ill.) and senior forward Luke Miller (Andover, Mass). Holy Cross outshot Mercyhurst 17-7 in the first period.

The Lakers jump-started the second period scoring two goals in the first minute and a half. The first coming from a shot by senior defenseman Kevin Noble that was tipped high over the shoulder of Kump. The goal was assisted by Nagtzaam and freshman forward Daniel Bahntge. The second goal was a result of a fast cycling shift that led to a scramble in front of the net. Freshman forward Chris Bodo got control of the puck, turned and roofed it top corner. The helpers were freshman forward Kyle Johnson and senior forward Derek Elliott. The Crusaders quickly gained their composure and responded strongly starting at 8:17 when sophomore forward Shayne Stockton (Rochester, N.Y) received an amazing wrap around the net pass from line mate senior forward Jay Silvia (Burlington, Mass.). Junior forward Erik Vos (Carlisle, Ontario) was also credited with an assist. Just four minutes later at 12:03 the Crusaders tied it up with a power play goal scored by senior forward Andrew Cox (Lombardy, Ontario). Senior defenseman Matt Clune (Toronto, Ontario) took a shot from the blue line that was tipped by sophomore forward Adam Schmidt Warrington, Pa) and saved by Strang, but Cox then netted the rebound. Holy Cross finished up the second period with another great goal scored by senior forward Gianni Baldassari (Fort Wayne, Ind.) and assisted by freshmen forwards Mike McNamara (Chestnut Hill, Mass.) and Tommy Dwyer (Ridgefield, Conn.). McNamara dropped the puck in the slot and Baldassari was right behind him with the slap-shot to bury it behind the blocker of Strang and gave Holy Cross the 4-3 lead at the end of the second period. The assist was Dwyer's first collegiate point. Coming into this game the Crusaders were 7-0-0 when leading after two periods this season.

Mercyhurst scored the first goal of the third period at 1:20 with junior forward Paul Chiasson winning the faceoff to sophomore forward Daniel O'Donoghue who took a blistering slap-shot that snuck right above Kump's shoulder. Both teams had five-on-three power play opportunities, however the Lakers were the ones who capitalized and scored. The goal put Mercyhurst ahead 5-4 and happened just a minute after the first goal at 2:33. It came from sophomore defenseman Nick Jones and was assisted by freshman defenseman Tyler Shiplo and sophomore forward Kyle Just. The determined Holy Cross team fought back and scored the tying goal at 4:51. Stockton, who was dominant at the faceoff circle tonight, won it clean back to senior defenseman Kyle Atkins (Brockville, Ontario) who wound up and took a quick one-timer that rang the crossbar and bounced down and in for the final tying goal. Both teams fought hard throughout the rest of the third and overtime periods but were unsuccessful getting a game-winning goal.

Kump made 16 saves and is now 1-1-1 on the season, while Strang posted 43 saves and is 12-9-3. The Crusaders went 1-4 on the power play and the Lakers went 2-6. Holy Cross outshot Mercyhurst 48-21.

The Crusaders return to action on Tuesday, Jan. 24, when they take on Atlantic Hockey opponent Bentley at the John A. Ryan Skating Arena in Watertown, Mass., at 7:00 p.m.