March 18, 2006
WORCESTER, Mass. - Behind the strength of four power play goals the No. 20 in the nation and top-seeded Holy Cross men's hockey team defeated fourth-seeded Bentley, 5-2, in the Atlantic Hockey Tournament Finals this evening at the Hart Center. With the victory, Holy Cross won its second Atlantic Hockey Championship in three years and will advance to the first round of the NCAA Championships beginning next week. The Crusaders move to 26-9-2 overall, while the Falcons conclude their season with a 15-17-5 overall record.
Both the Crusaders and the Falcons had a few good scoring chances early in the first period but the game remained scoreless for over 12 minutes until Holy Cross' first man-advantage of the game. The Crusaders got on the board first for the second night in a row behind senior Tyler McGregor (Ajax, Ontario). The regular season Atlantic Hockey Player of the Year took sophomore Dale Reinhardt's (Livingston, N.J.) feed from behind the net at the 7:46 mark and flipped it stick-side past Bentley goaltender Ray Jean.
The Falcons would not stay down long as they answered with a goal of their own just 31 seconds later. Dain Prewitt would put a rebound past senior Tony Quesada (South Freeport, Maine). Quesada made the initial save from a deflected shot but Prewitt was able to even the score 1-1.
Holy Cross was able to regain the lead 2-1 at the 3:27 mark when junior James Sixsmith (Alexandria, Va.) skated from the right circle to put the puck over Jean's left shoulder off a rebound. The power play goal was the third score in two days for Sixsmith, who reached the 100-point mark in his career last night.
Holy Cross out shot Bentley by a 17-10 margin in the first period, while the Crusaders went 2-3 with the man-advantage. The Falcons did not have any power play opportunities.
Taking advantage of a Falcon tripping penalty, the Crusaders would not waste time scoring their third power play goal of the game. Just over two minutes into the second frame, senior captain Pierre Napert-Frenette (Bathurst, New Brunswick) would unload a wrist shot from directly in front of the right circle into the top right shelf. Sixsmith made a great individual move behind the net and fed Napert-Frenette to push the score to 3-1 at the 17:53 mark.
Bentley had a 5-on-3 power play opportunity after a Crusader crosschecking penalty with inside 13 minutes to go in the second period. The Falcons would take full advantage as Jeff Gumaer scored off a pass from the point. Gumaer's shot was taken from a tight angle on the right side of the net and deflected off a Holy Cross defenseman into the net to pull the Falcons within a goal at 3-2.
After Bentley defenseman Kyle Larman illegally covered the puck in the goal crease, Sixsmith had a chance to increase the Holy Cross advantage on a penalty shot. The junior skated in on the left side but Jean stopped his wrist shot with the right pad to preserve the one goal deficit.
Holy Cross would eventually increase their lead to 4-2 with 7:29 left in the second period when junior John Landry (Lexington, Mass.) netted yet another power play goal from just in front of the Bentley goal crease. Landry took a feed from junior Sean Nappo (Northville, Mich.), who was at the left circle, to score his ninth goal of the season.
Just over five minutes later, with just 2:19 left in the second period, Napert-Frenette made strong pass to Nappo in the right front of the Falcon goal crease. Nappo could not get his stick on the pass but the puck deflected off the insole of his right skate and fluttered over the left shoulder of Jean to push the Crusader margin to 5-2.
The period would come to close at 5-2 despite Bentley outshooting Holy Cross 13-9. The Crusaders again scored two power play goals, going 2-4 with the man-advantage. Bentley was 1-5 on the power play in the period.
Senior Geordan Murphy took over in net for the Falcons at the start of the final frame. The appearance was only Murphy's sixth in his final season at Bentley.
The game slowed to a defensive struggle in the final frame as neither team scored for over the final 20 minutes. Junior Tanner Fogarty (McMurray, Pa.) had a great opportunity just inside the 16-minute mark but his attempt from the slot hit the right post on Murphy's glove side. Holy Cross' defense and the play of Quesada preserved the 5-2 victory the rest of the way.
Quesada stopped 30 shots to improve to 21-5-2 on the season, while the two Bentley goaltenders combined to make 26 saves. Quesada added to his school record by picking up his 21st win of the season. Bentley outshot Holy Cross by a slim margin, 32-31, while the Crusaders went 4-9 on the power play and the Falcons went 1-7.
Holy Cross junior James Sixsmith was named the Most Valuable Player of the 2006 Atlantic Hockey Tournament. Joining Sixsmith on the All-Tournament Team were senior teammates Pierre Napert-Frenette and Tony Quesada. Bentley's Jaye Judd and Tom Dickhudt were also named to the team along with Jamie Hunt of Mercyhurst.
The seeding for the 2006 NCAA Division I Hockey Tournament will be announced tomorrow morning at 11:00 a.m. on ESPN-2. Holy Cross will play in one of the four regional brackets.