Men's Hockey Defeats AIC, 5-1

Nick Finn

WORCESTER, Mass. – Senior assistant captain Adam Schmidt (Warrington, Pa.), junior Tommy Dwyer (Ridgefield, Conn.), sophomore Tim Driscoll (Hingham, Mass.) and freshman Nick Finn (Canton, Mass.) all each tallied a goal and an assist as the Holy Cross men's hockey team defeated American International, 5-1, on Friday night at the Hart Center in Atlantic Hockey action. With the win, the Crusaders advance to 10-18-3 overall (9-12-3 AHA), while the Yellow Jackets fall to 10-20-1 overall (9-14-1 AHA). The two teams will conclude their two-game home-and-home series on Saturday, Feb. 22, at the MassMutual Center in Springfield, Mass., at 2:00 p.m. The season series is now tied as AIC won by a 1-0 score earlier in the season in Worcester on Nov. 15. The teams were tied for eighth with 19 points in the AHA standings entering today's game, however with the win the Crusaders are now eighth with three games left in the season. The No. 5-8 seeded teams will host a best two-out-of-three AHA Tournament first round series on March 7-9 versus the No. 9-12 seeds.

In the first period the Crusaders pressured the Yellow Jackets early, winning the faceoff and taking control of the puck. After multiple attempts and constant pressure on the net, with just 1:29 into the game, Driscoll scored off a rebound from a shot by teammate Jake Youso (International Falls, Minn.). After a shot from Dwyer that was saved by AIC goalkeeper Hunter Leisner, Youso then had his follow up shot saved too. Finding the puck Driscoll sent the shot into the upper stick side of the net. After the teams returned to the faceoff circle, Holy Cross gained control again pressuring the AIC defense. At 3:15 Schmidt placed the puck into the net for the Crusaders' second goal off an assist from Finn. The Yellow Jackets tried to answer these goals, taking the puck at the faceoff, pressuring the Holy Cross net. Playing tough defense, the Crusaders forced AIC out. With 6:29 into the period Jason Popek had a breakaway with a strong attempt on net. However, junior goalie Matt Ginn (Lindsay, Ontario) made a save scooping up the puck. 18:50 in the period the Crusaders once again made an attempt. Castan Sommer (Shewsbury, Mass.) placed the third Holy Cross goal into the upper stick side of the net after sophomore Brett Lubanski (Farmington Hills, Mich.) sent a crossing pass to Sommer. Holy Cross entered the locker room with a 3-0 lead going into the second period. Holy Cross dominated the period, outshooting AIC 22-5. The Crusaders went 0-2 and the Yellow Jackets went 0-1 on power plays.

During the second period both teams fought back in forth with multiple shots on net each way. Early into the period the Yellow Jackets entered a power play opportunity however none of their attempts were met by success on goal. At 7:39, Finn took a strong shot on net, which was met by a save in the pads by the Leisner. After much back and forth play the Crusaders took control of the puck in the faceoff circle and at 16:00 Finn scored putting the puck into the glove side of the net off the assist set by Schmidt. While AIC would take a few more attempts, including a strong shot by David Gandara, and another by David Norris, Ginn continued to protect the net making saves in his mitt on both shots.

The third period remained scoreless until late despite many strong attempts by both teams. With 7:09 on the clock AIC's Brandon Fagerheim took a strong shot on net that Ginn answered with a save in the pads. With 8:44 into the period the Crusaders took control of the puck, as Dwyer took a strong shot on the net. Advancing close to the net Dwyer shot at the lower stick side of the net. The Leisner met this attempt with a save down low in the pads. After 12 scoreless minutes the Yellow Jackets ended the Holy Cross shutout as Austin Orszulak placed a shot in the net. After an assist from Dan Clairmont and Fagerheim, Orszulak took two shots close to the net. While Ginn saved the first, Orszulak was able to get the second into the net. As the period wound down the Crusaders answered the AIC goal as Dwyer fired a shot on the glove side of the net off the assists from teammates Driscoll and Youso.

Ginn posted 16 saves during the night, while Leisner tallied 36. The Crusaders blocked 18 shots led by sophomore Jake Bolton (Ellington, Conn.) and sophomore Nathaniel Domagala (Oakville, Ontario) who each had three. Neither team converted any of their power plays for chances with Holy Cross going 0-3 and AIC going 0-2. The Crusaders were victorious from the dot going 37-22 during the contest. Freshman Mike Barrett (Orland Park, Ill.) led the Crusaders from the dot winning 11 out of his 19 faceoffs. The Crusaders outshot the Yellow Jackets 41-17 overall. All three stars for tonight's game were awarded to Holy Cross players. Schmidt, Driscoll and Finn earned a star for the night with their goals and assists. Schmidt has now played in 143 games which is tied for fifth all time at the school. The Crusaders advanced their record to 4-2-0 in the month of February with the win. They are also now 9-2-2 in games where they scored three or more goals. Schmidt has now played in 143 games which are tied for fifth all time at the school. He also now has nine game-winning goals which are tied for fifth all-time on the program's Division I list. 

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