January 26, 2006

Men's Hockey Ready For Home-And-Home Series With AIC

Jan. 26, 2006

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GAME DAY QUICK FACTS:

The Teams: Holy Cross (15-6-1, 11-4-1 AHA) vs. AIC (4-14-2, 4-11-2)

Date: January 27-28

Time: 7:00 p.m.

Place: Friday-Olympia Ice Center (2,200), West Springfield, Mass.

Saturday-Hart Center (1,600), Worcester, Mass.

Holy Cross Radio: Friday-WTAG 580 AM, Worcester, Mass. Dick Lutsk, play-by-play; Mike Maguire, color.

Holy Cross Student Radio: Saturday-WCHC 88.1 FM, Worcester, Mass.

Series Record: HC leads 28-15-6 (Varsity games since 1966).

Last Meeting: HC 2, AIC 1 (11/19/05; West Springfield, Mass.).

THIS WEEKEND: The Holy Cross men's hockey team (15-6-1 overall, 11-4-1 Atlantic Hockey) returns to the ice this weekend for a home-and-home series with American International (4-14-2 overall, 4-11-2 Atlantic Hockey), on Friday and Saturday, January 27-28. On Friday, The Crusaders travel to West Springfield, Mass., to take on the Yellow Jackets at the Olympia Ice Center, while on Saturday the two teams will conclude their series at the Hart Center. Both games are set to start at 7:00 p.m. Holy Cross is coming off a 5-3 win at Connecticut on Thursday night, while AIC was swept last weekend at Mercyhurst. In the UConn win, sophomore defenseman Matt Burke (Milton, Mass.) scored his first two goals of the season and senior goalie Tony Quesada (South Freeport, Maine) made a season-high 43 saves. The Crusaders are currently tied for second place in Atlantic Hockey with 23 points, while the Yellow Jackets are in seventh place with 10 points.

THE SERIES WITH AIC: This weekend's games will mark the 50th and 51st meetings between the Crusaders and the Yellow Jackets since Holy Cross became a varsity program in the 1966-67 season, with the Crusaders leading 28-15-6. This series is the final regular season match up between the two teams this season as the Crusaders lead the season series, 1-0-1. The two teams skated to a 1-1 tie at the Hart Center, on Nov. 18, as Holy Cross freshman Dewey Thomson (Northbridge, Mass.) scored with just three seconds left in the third period to force overtime. Senior goaltender Tony Quesada (South Freeport, Maine) stopped 16 shots. The following day at the Olympia Ice Center, senior Tyler McGregor (Ajax, Ontario) scored both Holy Cross goals and senior Ben Conway (South Hadley, Mass.) made 27 saves as the Crusaders won by a score of 2-1. Last year, the Crusaders took the series, 2-0-1.

HC IN THE RANKINGS: The Crusaders' .705 overall winning percentage this season is fifth in the nation. Holy Cross is third in the AHA and 13th in the nation in scoring defense with 2.41 goals allowed per game, while it is first in the AHA and third in the nation in penalty kill percentage (.894). Offensively, the Crusaders are third in the AHA and 23rd in the nation in scoring offense (3.23 goals per game), while they are second in the AHA and seventh in the nation in power play conversion percentage (.219).

THE YELLOW JACKETS: American International is 3-4-0 in the month of January as it won three of its first four games of the month, but has now lost three straight, including two at Mercyhurst last weekend. The Yellow Jackets are led by sophomore Jereme Tendler's eights goals and eight assists for 16 points. Juniors Neil Sullivan and Jeremy Leroux are tied for second on the team in scoring with 10 points each. Sullivan has five goals and five assists, while Leroux has three goals and seven assists. Freshman Tom Fenton (4-9-2) has seen the majority of the time in goal for the Yellow Jackets as he has a 3.30 goals against average and .904 save percentage. He has been named the AHA Rookie of the Week three times this season, in addition to earning Goaltender of the Week accolades once.

THE WEEK THAT WAS: Last week the Crusaders went 2-0-0 with wins over UConn and Dartmouth. In the 5-2 victory over UConn, senior Pierre Napert-Frenette (Bathurst, New Brunswick) scored two goals, including the game-winner. He also added an assist, while senior goaltender Tony Quesada (South Freeport, Maine) made 29 saves to earn the win. In the win at Dartmouth on Saturday night, junior James Sixsmith (Alexandria, Va.) scored a shorthanded game winning goal with just 28 seconds remaining in the third period. Senior Tyler McGregor (Ajax, Ontario) assisted on all three of Holy Cross' goals. Quesada stopped 32 shots, including 15 saves in the second period. The win gave head coach Paul Pearl the school record for career coaching victories with 168. Holy Cross evened the all-time series versus Dartmouth at 2-2, with all games being playing in Hanover, N.H.

LOVING THE ROAD: The Crusaders are 9-2-0 on their opponent's home ice this season. They have defeated Massachusetts (10/21), Connecticut (11/4, 1/24), American International (11/19), Rensselaer (11/25), Canisius (12/2-3), Army (1/13) and Dartmouth (1/21). Holy Cross' only two losses are to Sacred Heart (1/6) and Army (1/14).

4-2-0 IN NON-CONFERENCE GAMES: The Crusaders concluded their non-conference schedule with a 4-2-0 record. Holy Cross went 3-0-0 in games against an ECACHL opponent with the 3-2 win over Dartmouth on Saturday night and two wins over Rensselaer. Holy Cross earned a 3-2 win at Hockey East member UMass in the season-opener, while it had a 6-1 loss versus Nebraska-Omaha and a 4-0 loss versus Ohio State.

STRONG DEFENSE: Holy Cross is ranked third in Atlantic Hockey and 13th nationally in scoring defense with 53 goals allowed and 2.41 goals allowed per game, and has given up only 14 goals on 131 power play opportunities (.894) for its opponents which is first in the league and third nationally. The Crusaders have also received an offensive spark from junior defenseman Jon Landry (Lexington, Mass.) who is sixth on the team in scoring with three goals and 14 assists for 17 points. He is second in the conference and 14th nationally in points per game by a defenseman with .81.

SIXSMITH EARNS WEEKLY HONORS: Junior forward James Sixsmith (Alexandria, Va.) was named the AHA Player of the Week and the New England Hockey Journal Atlantic Hockey Player of the Week for his four-point performance last week. Sixsmith scored an empty net goal and added two assists, including one on the game-winner in the 5-2 win over UConn on January 19. In the 3-2 win at Dartmouth on January 21, he scored a shorthanded game-winner with just 28 seconds remaining in the third period. Sixsmith now has two shorthanded goals on the season as he had an empty net shorthanded goal in the 4-2 win over Rensselaer at the Ohio Hockey Classic, on December 30. For the season, Sixsmith is currently third on the team in scoring with six goals and 13 assists for 19 points. Earlier this season, Sixsmith was named the NEHJ Atlantic Hockey Player of the Week for his two goal performance in the 4-2 win over Rensselaer on December 30. He was also named to the all-tournament team at the Ohio Hockey Classic.

QUESADA SETS HC RECORD FOR WINS: Two weeks ago, senior Tony Quesada (South Freeport, Maine) made 18 saves in the 4-3 win at Army (1/13), giving him a school-record 46 career wins. The record of 45 wins was previously held by Paul Pijanowski (1984-87). With the win over UConn on Thursday night, he is now 10-3-1 on the season and has a career record of 49-30-7 (.610), including his fifth career shutout in the 1-0 win over Army (10/28) earlier this season. Quesada has made three straight starts, earning the win in all three games. He is currently tied with senior goalie Ben Conway (South Hadley, Mass.) for first on the all-time list at Holy Cross in save percentage (.913). Quesada is also second all-time at Holy Cross in games played (89), minutes played (5104:26) and saves (2276), while he is third in goals against average (2.56). He is third in the AHA and 17th nationally in save percentage (.922). Earlier this season, Quesada was named the AHA Goaltender of the Week (10/24) for his 22 save performance in the 3-2 win over UMass. This marked the fourth time that he has received this honor in his career.

CONWAY SOLID IN NET: Senior Ben Conway (South Hadley, Mass.) has continued to see significant time in goal and has been outstanding. Conway is 5-3-0 this season, as his 2.14 goals against average is first in the conference and 12th nationally. In addition, his .926 save percentage is second in Atlantic Hockey and 13th in the nation. Conway was named AHA Goaltender of the Week (1/2) for his 39 save performance in the 4-2 win over RPI at the Ohio Hockey Classic. Last season, Conway was named Goaltender of the Week (11/29/04). He received the 2004-05 Regular-Season Goaltending Award for posting the best goals against average in conference games (2.31). His .913 career save percentage is tied with Quesada for first all-time at Holy Cross, while his 2.46 career goals against average is currently the all-time record.

SENIOR LEADERSHIP: Senior co-captains Tyler McGregor (Ajax, Ontario) and Pierre Napert-Frenette (Bathurst, New Brunswick), along with senior Blair Bartlett (Dryden, Ontario) are having outstanding senior seasons. McGregor leads the team in scoring with 15 goals and 12 assists for 27 points, as he has a total of six assists in the last three games. His 15 goals is second in Atlantic Hockey and his .71 goals per game is sixth in the nation. McGregor is first in the conference and tied for third in the nation in power play goals with 10. He was named the AHA Player of the Week for his five goal performance in two games against Mercyhurst, making it the third time that he has received that honor. Last season, he was named Player of the Week twice (1/3/05 & 1/17/05). McGregor's 110 career points ties him for 30th at Holy Cross with Mark Wright (1983-87). Napert-Frenette is second on team in scoring with 10 goals and 14 assists for 24 points. His 117 career points ranks him 28th on the Holy Cross all-time points list. Bartlett has been a major factor as he has five goals and 13 assists for 18 points, which is tied for fourth on the team in scoring with sophomore Dale Reinhardt (Livingston, N.J.), who has six goals and 12 assists. For his career, Bartlett has played in 101 games with 25 goals and 37 assists for 62 points.

HOLY CROSS HEAD COACH Paul Pearl: Paul Pearl is in his 11th year at the helm of the Holy Cross ice hockey program. He is just the fifth head coach in the 36-year history of ice hockey at Holy Cross. Pearl has forged a 169-144-30 record at his alma mater and has been the man behind the bench in six of the eight most successful seasons in Holy Cross history. Along with nine post-season appearances in 10 years, Pearl led the Crusaders to their first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance in the 2003-04 season. With the win at Dartmouth (1/21), Pearl now owns the school record for career coaching victories. The record was previously held by Peter Van Buskirk who has 167 career wins (1979-88; 1996-97).