The Holy Cross men's hockey team is coming off a 2012-2013 season in which it went 20-14-3 overall (15-9-3 Atlantic Hockey), for the seventh 20-win season in program history. The Crusaders have also posted back-to-back campaigns with 20 victories for the first time ever, after going 20-15-4 in 2011-2012. This year's squad will look to continue that string of success with the return of 20 players, plus the addition of seven freshmen and one sophomore to the roster.
The Crusaders have finished third in Atlantic Hockey the last three seasons and their 44 conference wins tie them for second most in the league over the three years. The Crusaders welcome back leading point-scorer senior Shayne Stockton (Rochester, N.Y.) and second leading goal-scorer senior Adam Schmidt (Warrington, Pa.) among 11 returning forwards. Stockton finished the season hot scoring six goals and tallying eight assists for 14 points over the last eight games. Schmidt netted five game-winning goals which tied for second in Atlantic Hockey.
Last year, every skater who finished the season on the team (and one goalie) netted at least one point. Of those 23 skaters, 18 return this season including seven who finished with double digit points, led by Stockton with 28 and Schmidt with 25. Those players look to once again be a key part of the Holy Cross power play, which netted 34 goals and converted 22.4 percent of the time last year, to rank seventh in the nation.
Beyond their scoring, the Crusaders return seven of the eight defensemen who saw action last season. "The group of defensemen that we have back and the familiarity they have with each other is huge," head coach Paul Pearl noted. "College hockey now a days has a lot of low scoring games so having a lot of defenders back should mean we can play strong defense right away. Our defense should be a strong point for us this year."
In addition to returning seven defensemen, the team returns junior goalie Matt Ginn (Lindsay, Ontario). Throughout the 2012-2013 season Ginn broke three school records for his performance in the crease. Ginn took the net for 2100:55 over a record 35 games a year ago.
This season, Holy Cross is set to take on Hockey East opponents Boston College, Boston University and Northeastern as well as defending national champion Yale and national runner-up Quinnipiac. This season, the USCHO preseason poll ranked five of Holy Cross' scheduled opponents in its top 20, including No. 4 Boston College, No. 6 Yale, No. 10 Quinnipiac, No. 19 Boston University and No. 20 Niagara. "We try every year to schedule our non-conference games to prepare us for the playoffs," said Pearl. "Our league has improved so much that we are always prepared to play ranked teams. Having quality teams on our schedule is very important." In the past season, the Crusaders won two of their five games against ranked teams, including contests versus Yale and Niagara. The team also was ranked No. 20 by USCHO on Dec. 31 after defeating Yale, marking the third time Holy Cross earned a national ranking in program history.
This season, the Crusader squad will be led by senior captain Ryan McGrath (Pittsburgh, Pa.). "McGrath is the most genuine, humble and hardworking student-athlete," said Pearl. "He has everything you want your team leader to have. He is the perfect representative of Holy Cross hockey."
In addition to McGrath, the team will look to Derek Kump (Falmouth, Maine), Schmidt, Stockton and Mark Williamson (Centennial, Colo.) for senior leadership. This senior class has 57 career wins, the second most by a class entering their senior year at Holy Cross.
The rising junior class returns five players for their third season. Juniors Nilan Nagy (Canonsburg, Pa.) and Ginn represent the two returning starters to the Holy Cross lineup. The Crusaders also bring back 10 members of a strong sophomore class that combined for 20 goals and 52 assists for 72 points. In the 2012-2013 season, 24 of the 37 games featured at least seven of these sophomores, and one featured 10 members of the class.
The Crusaders will play a total of 16 home games at the Hart Center this season. Last year, Holy Cross went 10-7-2 at home. The Crusaders begin the regular season on the road versus Boston University on Oct. 12, then play their home-opener against Northeastern at the Hart Center on Oct. 18. In addition, the Crusaders are set to play a game at Fenway Park as a part of Frozen Fenway on Dec. 28 versus Bentley.
Returning 11; Lost 5; Newcomers 6
Stockton looks to pick up in his senior year where he finished off the last season. After averaging almost two points per game over the last eight contests in 2012-2013, including two games with three or more points, Stockton's momentum should propel the team forward this season.
Schmidt ranked second on the team with 14 goals last season, including a short-handed goal, a hat trick, a pair of power-play goals and five game-winning goals (second most in Atlantic Hockey). In his career, Schmidt ranks second in Division I at the school with two hat tricks, and ties for sixth with two short-handed goals. Schmidt has averaged .741 points per game in his career with 83 points in his 112 games played.
The Crusaders will also look to sophomore Castan Sommer (Shrewsbury, Mass.), the only freshman forward to make a start in 2012-2013, to jumpstart their offense. Sommer finished last season first among the team's 11 freshmen with six goals. Williamson; juniors Tommy Dwyer (Ridgefield, Conn.), Mike McNamara (Chestnut Hill, Mass.) and Jake Youso (International Falls, Minn.); and sophomores Tim Driscoll (Hingham, Mass.), Sean Gustin (Stoneham, Mass.), Brett Lubanski (Farmington Hills, Mich.) and Matt Vidal (Manorville, N.Y.) are also expected to have strong seasons. Incoming freshmen Mike Barrett (Orland Park, Ill.), John Cross (Quebec, Quebec), Nick Finn (Canton, Mass.), Grant Garvin (Derby, N.Y), Cameron Lawson (Vancouver, British Columbia) and Brett McKinnon (Kelowna, British Columbia) will be looking to contribute.
Returning 7; Lost 2; Newcomers 1
The strong Crusader defense welcomes back seven experienced players. Led by AHA All-Rookie team member Karl Beckman (Okemos, Mich.), who tallied 18 points and four goals, three members of the 2012-2013 defense posted more than 10 points during the season. The defense accounted for 68 points and 59 assists overall last year. The Crusaders also return Nagy who, despite missing eight games due to injury, finished fourth among defensemen in scoring. Looking to senior leadership for the 2013-2014 season, the defense will rely on the support of McGrath. In addition to Beckman, Nagy and McGrath, Holy Cross returns sophomores Jake Bolton (Ellington, Conn.), Nathaniel Domagala (Oakville, Ontario), Ben Kaplan (Burlington, Vt.) and Joe McNamara (Chestnut Hill, Mass.). Freshman Logan Smith (Littleton, Colo.) looks to provide additional defensive support, along with Garvin (who could play defense as well as forward).
Returning 2; Lost 1; Newcomers 1
The Crusaders will look to Ginn in net for a third year. As a sophomore, the goalie set three school records and broke into the top 10 list of every goalie record at the school, as well as being named the team's Most Valuable Player. He posted a 19-13-3 record in the past season, the second most victories in the school's Division I history. He holds the record for playing the most games last season totaling the highest minutes in net while recording a single-season record number of saves. Ginn was named Atlantic Hockey Goalie of the Week twice last season.
Kump also brings experience to the goaltending line entering his fourth season in net for the Crusaders. Holy Cross welcomes one newcomer, sophomore Jack Kenney (Orono, Mich.) to the team.