February 16, 2006

Holy Cross Set For First-Place Showdown At Mercyhurst

Feb. 16, 2006

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GAME DAY QUICK FACTS:

The Teams: Holy Cross (20-7-1, 16-5-1 AHA) at Mercyhurst (18-10-0, 16-6-0 AHA)

Date: February 17-18

Time: 7:00 p.m.

Place: Mercyhurst Ice Center (1,500), Erie, Pa.

Holy Cross Radio: Friday & Saturday-WTAG 580 AM, Worcester, Mass.; Dick Lutsk, play-by-play; Chris Fattey, color.

Series Record: Mercyhurst leads 14-6-1.

Last Meeting: Mercyhurst 4, HC 3 (11/12/05; Worcester, Mass.).

THIS WEEKEND: The first-place Holy Cross men's hockey team (20-7-1 overall, 16-5-1 Atlantic Hockey) returns to the ice this weekend when it travels to Erie, Pa., to face second-place Mercyhurst (18-10-0 overall, 16-6-0 Atlantic Hockey), at the Mercyhurst Ice Center on Friday and Saturday, February 17-18. Both games are set to start at 7:00 p.m. Only one point separates these two teams at the top of the Atlantic Hockey standings with six games to go as the Crusaders have 33 points and the Lakers have 32 points. Both teams have just clinched home ice for the AHA Quarterfinals. The Lakers have the top ranked offense in the nation as they average 4.32 goals per game, while the Crusader defense only allows 2.39 goals per game and its 88.5 penalty kill percentage is third in the nation. These games will feature two of the top three goal scorers in the country as Mercyhurst's senior forward Dave Borrelli leads the nation with .88 goals per game and Holy Cross' senior forward Tyler McGregor (Ajax, Ontario) is third with .78 goals per game.

THE SERIES WITH MERCYHURST: This weekend's games will mark the 22nd and 23rd meetings between the Crusaders and the Lakers, with Mercyhurst leading 14-6-1. These two teams split a series at the Hart Center on November 11-12, earlier this season with Holy Cross winning 10-3 on Friday night and Mercyhurst winning 4-3 on Saturday night. In the first game, senior Tyler McGregor (Ajax, Ontario) scored a hat trick in the first period as the Crusaders scored seven goals in the opening period in en route to the 10-3 win. The Lakers scored two third period goals to come back from a 3-2 deficit to earn the 4-3 win in the last meeting between the teams.

HC IN THE RANKINGS: The Crusaders' .732 overall winning percentage this season is second in the nation. Holy Cross is third in the AHA and 13th in the nation in scoring defense with 2.39 goals allowed per game, while it is first in the AHA and third in the nation in penalty kill percentage (88.5). Offensively, the Crusaders are second in the AHA and 13th in the nation in scoring offense (3.39 goals per game), while they are second in the AHA and sixth in the nation in power play conversion percentage (21.2).

THE LAKERS: Mercyhurst has won three in a row including a sweep of Bentley last weekend as they are currently one point behind Holy Cross for first place. The Lakers have the top ranked scoring offense (4.32 goals per game) and power play percentage (22.7) in the nation. They allow 3.4 goals per game and average 25.4 penalty minutes per game. Mercyhurst is led by junior defenseman Jamie Hunt's 10 goals and 31 assists for 41 points. He leads the nation in assists per game (1.19) and points per game by a defenseman (1.58). Senior Dave Borrelli and junior Scott Champagne each have 40 points. Borrelli has 22 goals and 18 assists, while Champagne has 13 goals and 27 assists. Borrelli leads the nation in goals per game with .88 and his 11 power play goals is tied for first. Freshman Tyler Small and junior Mike Ella have split time in net for the Lakers, but Small has played in nine of the last 10 games. Small is 10-3-0 on the season with a 2.84 goals against average and a .922 save percentage.

THE WEEK THAT WAS: Last week the Crusaders split a two-game series with Canisius at the Hart Center, winning on Friday night by a score of 5-2, and falling to the golden Griffins on Saturday night, 3-1. In the 5-2 victory, senior Tyler McGregor (Ajax, Ontario) and junior Sean Nappo (Northville, Mich.) each scored two goals as the Crusaders extended their winning streak to eight games. With the game tied at 2-2 in the second period, Nappo scored the game-winner at the 12:44 mark. Senior goaltender Tony Quesada (South Freeport, Maine) made 22 saves to improve to 15-3-1 on the season. The following night, Holy Cross outshot Canisius by a 40-21 margin but could only score one goal on Canisius' Dan Giffin who made 39 saves. Senior Pierre Napert-Frenette (Bathurst, New Brunswick) scored the lone goal for Holy Cross, while senior goalie Ben Conway (South Hadley, Mass.) stopped 18 shots.

HC APPROACHING SCHOOL RECORD FOR WINS: With 20 wins so far this season, the Crusaders are the fifth team in school history to reach that mark and are approaching the school single season record for wins (22). Both the 1998-99 and 2003-04 teams had 22 victories. The Crusaders have reached the 20 win mark on two other occasions, with 21 wins in the 1979-80 season and 20 wins in the 1982-83 season.

LOVING THE ROAD: The Crusaders are 11-2-0 on their opponent's home ice this season and their 11 wins is a new school record. The 1998-99 and 1979-80 teams each had 10 wins. This year, Holy Cross has defeated Massachusetts (10/21), Bentley (2/3), Connecticut (11/4, 1/24), American International (11/19, 1/27), 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), Army (1/14) and Bentley (2/3).

3RD IN THE NATION IN PENALTY KILLING: Holy Cross' 88.5 penalty kill percentage is currently the third best in the nation behind Maine's 90.4 and Miami of Ohio's 89.5. The Crusaders have allowed only 18 goals on 156 power play opportunities for its opponents which also leads Atlantic Hockey.

QUESADA NAMED A WALTER BROWN SEMIFINALIST: Senior goaltender Tony Quesada (South Freeport, Maine) has been named one of 15 semifinalists for the 54th Walter Brown Award as announced by Gridiron Club of Greater Boston president George Crotty. The award is presented annually to the best American-born college hockey player in New England. Quesada is the fourth Holy Cross player to be named a semifinalist for this award in the program's history, along with Jim Stewart, Patrick Rissmiller and Tony Coskren. The winner will be announced in mid-March, and the award will be presented at the New England College Hockey Writers' dinner in April. The candidates include 12 players from Hockey East, two from the ECAC Hockey League, and one from Atlantic Hockey.

STRONG DEFENSE: Holy Cross is ranked third in Atlantic Hockey and 13th in scoring defense with 2.39 goals allowed per game. The Crusaders have also received an offensive spark from their defensemen. Junior Jon Landry (Lexington, Mass.) is sixth on the team in scoring with four goals and 14 assists for 18 points. He is tied for second in the conference and tied for 26th nationally in points per game by a defenseman with .67. Sophomore Matt Burke (Milton, Mass.) is seventh on the team in scoring with two goals and 13 assists for 15 points. He has dished out at least one assist in three out of the last four games with four total assists. Junior Rob Godfrey (Thunder Bay, Ontario) is ninth on the team and freshman Shane McAdam (Hamilton, Ontario) is 10th in scoring. Godfrey has four goals and eight assists for 12 points, while McAdam has three goals and eight assists for 11 points. Senior Marc Bianchi (Ithaca, N.Y.) has chipped in with one goal and six assists for seven points.

QUESADA RULING THE CHARTS: Senior goaltender Tony Quesada (South Freeport, Maine) went 1-0-0 last week as he made 22 saves to earn the victory in the 5-2 win over Canisius on Friday night. Quesada is now 15-3-1 on the season and has a career record of 54-30-7 (.632), including his fifth career shutout in the 1-0 win over Army (10/28). The Crusaders have won nine straight games when Quesada has been in net and his .816 winning percentage is the second best in the nation. Quesada has played in nine of the last 11 games. He currently owns Holy Cross all-time records for career save percentage (.914) and career wins (54), while he is tied for first all-time in goals against average (2.51). Quesada is second all-time at Holy Cross in saves (2376), games played in goal (94) and minutes played (5364:26). This season, he is second in the AHA and 11th nationally in save percentage (.926), while he is second in the AHA and 14th in the nation in goals against average (2.23).

McGREGOR ON NINE-GAME SCORING STREAK: Senior captain Tyler McGregor (Ajax, Ontario) is on a nine-game scoring streak with six goals and 14 assists for 20 points. Against Canisius, he had a four-point weekend with two goals and two assists. In the 5-2 win on Friday, he scored two goals and added an assist, while on Saturday he assisted on Holy Cross' lone goal. McGregor leads the team in scoring with 21 goals and 20 assists for 41 points. His 41 points and 20 assists are career highs, while his 21 goals ties his career best of last season. McGregor's .78 goals per game is third best in the nation and his 1.52 points per game is sixth nationally. He is second in the league in goals and his 10 power plays goals is second in the league and tied for sixth in the nation. His 124 career points ties him with senior Pierre Napert-Frenette (Bathurst, New Brunswick) and Mike Robben (1979-83) for 22nd on the Holy Cross all-time points list, as he has 65 goals and 59 assists. His 10 power play goals ties him for fourth for a single season at Holy Cross. McGregor has been named AHA Player of the Week twice this season.

NAPERT-FRENETTE HAVING GREAT SENIOR YEAR: Senior captain Pierre Napert-Frenette (Bathurst, New Brunswick) is second on team in scoring with 12 goals and 19 assists for 31 points. His 124 career points ties him with senior Tyler McGregor (Ajax, Ontario) and Mike Robben (1979-83) for 22nd on the Holy Cross all-time points list. Napert-Frenette's 135 games played ties him with Greg Kealey (2000-04) for fourth all-time. The record is 138 by Tim Coskren (2000-04).

AHA TOURNEY AT HART CENTER: The Crusaders have clinched home ice for an Atlantic Hockey quarterfinal game on March 11. As announced before the season, Holy Cross will also host the AHA Semifinals and Finals on March 17-18.

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 a win at Dartmouth and two wins over Rensselaer. Holy Cross defeated Hockey East member UMass in the season-opener, while it fell to Nebraska-Omaha and Ohio State.

HOLY CROSS HEAD COACH Paul Pearl: Paul Pearl is in his 11th year at the helm of the Holy Cross ice hockey program and is the winningest coach in the program's history. He is just the fifth head coach in the 36-year history of ice hockey at Holy Cross. Pearl has forged a 174-145-30 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 set 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).