Crusaders Set To Face Sacred Heart

Feb. 23, 2006

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The Teams: Holy Cross (21-7-2, 17-5-2 AHA) vs. Sacred Heart (18-10-2, 15-7-2 AHA)

Date: February 24-25

Time: 7:00 p.m.

Place: Friday-Hart Center (1,600), Worcester, Mass.

Saturday-Milford Ice Pavilion (1,000), Milford, Conn.

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

Series Record: Holy Cross leads 15-10-1.

Last Meeting: HC 3, Sacred Heart 2 (1/7/06; Worcester, Mass.).

THIS WEEKEND: The first-place Holy Cross men's hockey team (21-7-2 overall, 17-5-2 Atlantic Hockey) returns to the ice this weekend when it faces third-place Sacred Heart (18-10-2 overall, 15-7-2 Atlantic Hockey), in a home-and-home series on Friday and Saturday, February 24-25. Friday night's game is at the Hart Center, while Saturday night's game is at the Milford Ice Pavilion. Both games are set to start at 7:00 p.m. Four points separate these two teams with four games to go as the Crusaders have 36 points and the Pioneers have 32 points. Second-place Mercyhurst (33 points) hosts a two-game series with Army this weekend.

THE SERIES WITH SACRED HEART: This weekend's games will mark the 27th and 28th meetings between the Crusaders and the Pioneers, with Holy Cross leading 15-10-1. These two teams split a home-and-home series on January 6-7, with Sacred Heart winning 3-1 in Milford, Conn., on Friday night, and Holy Cross winning 3-2 at the Hart Center on Saturday night.

HC IN THE RANKINGS: The Crusaders' .733 overall winning percentage this season is second in the nation. Holy Cross is second in the AHA and 13th in the nation in scoring defense with 2.40 goals allowed per game, while it is first in the AHA and third in the nation in penalty kill percentage (88.2). Offensively, the Crusaders are second in the AHA and tied for ninth in the nation in scoring offense (3.43 goals per game), while they are second in the AHA and fifth in the nation in power play conversion percentage (21.5).

THE PIONEERS: Sacred Heart enters the weekend in third place in Atlantic Hockey as it took three out of four points from AIC last weekend. The Pioneers won the opener 4-1 Friday night in Milford. Junior Pierre-Luc O'Brien and freshman Bear Trapp each had one goal and two assists, including Trapp's game winner. Saturday the teams skated to a 2-2 draw in West Springfield, Mass. The Pioneers won the season series from the Yellow Jackets 3-0-1. O'Brien leads the team in scoring with 41 points including 16 goals and 25 assists. His 41 total points ties him for the most points in a single season of any player in Sacred Heart history. With his 15th win of the year Friday night junior goaltender Jason Smith set a new mark for wins by a goaltender in a season for Sacred Heart. Smith has posted a league-leading .933 save percentage and a 2.10 goals against average.

THE WEEK THAT WAS: The Crusaders went 1-0-1 at Mercyhurst last weekend as they won the season series, 2-1-1. In the 5-2 win on Friday night, senior Blair Bartlett (Dryden, Ontario) scored two goals and freshman Kai Magnussen (Okotoks, Alberta) scored the game-winner. Senior Tyler McGregor (Ajax, Ontario) and junior Sean Nappo (Northville, Mich.) each scored goals, while senior goaltender Tony Quesada (South Freeport, Maine) made 36 saves to earn the victory. In the 3-3 tie on Saturday night, junior Jon Landry (Lexington, Mass.) scored a goal with 23 seconds left in the third period to force overtime, while Nappo and sophomore Cal St. Denis (Freelton, Ontario) each registered goals. Quesada stopped 31 shots.

HC APPROACHING SCHOOL RECORD FOR WINS: With 21 wins so far this season, the Crusaders are the fifth team in school history to reach the 20 win 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 12-2-1 on their opponent's home ice this season and their 12 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) and Mercyhurst (2/17). Holy Cross' only two losses are to Sacred Heart (1/6) and Army (1/14), while it tied Mercyhurst (2/18).

3RD IN THE NATION IN PENALTY KILLING: Holy Cross' 88.2 penalty kill percentage is currently the third best in the nation behind Maine's 91.0 and Miami of Ohio's 88.9. The Crusaders have allowed only 20 goals on 169 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 second in Atlantic Hockey and 13th nationally in scoring defense with 2.40 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 five goals and 15 assists for 20 points. He is second in the conference and 27th nationally in points per game by a defenseman with .69. Sophomore Matt Burke (Milton, Mass.) is tied for seventh on the team in scoring with two goals and 13 assists for 15 points. Junior Rob Godfrey (Thunder Bay, Ontario) is ninth on the team and freshman Shane McAdam (Hamilton, Ontario) is tied for 10th in scoring. Godfrey has four goals and eight assists for 13 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) made 36 saves in the 5-2 win at Mercyhurst on Friday night and 31 in the 3-3 tie on Saturday. He is now 16-3-2 on the season and his .810 winning percentage is second in the nation. Quesada's career record now stands at 55-30-8 (.634). The Crusaders are 10-0-1 in the last 11 games that Quesada has played in. He currently owns the Holy Cross all-time records for career save percentage (.914), goals against average (2.50) and career wins (55), while he is tied for first all-time in games played in goal (96). Quesada is second all-time at Holy Cross in saves (2443) and minutes played (5489:15). This season, he is second in the AHA and 7th nationally in save percentage (.927), while he is second in the AHA and 16th in the nation in goals against average (2.25).

McGREGOR ON 11-GAME SCORING STREAK: Senior Tyler McGregor (Ajax, Ontario) is on an 11-game scoring streak with seven goals and 17 assists for 24 points. He had a four-point weekend with one goal and three assists. In the 5-2 win over Mercyhurst on Friday night, he scored a goal and added two assists, while on Saturday he assisted on Holy Cross' overtime forcing goal with just 23 seconds left in the third period. McGregor leads the team in scoring with 22 goals and 23 assists for 45 points, which are all career highs. His .76 goals per game ranks him third in the country, while his 1.55 points per game is fourth nationally. McGregor's 128 career points (66 goals, 62 assists) ranks him tied for 20th all-time at Holy Cross. He is second in the league in goals and his 11 power plays goals is second in the league and tied for fifth in the nation. His 11 power play goals ties him for third 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 the team in scoring with 12 goals and 21 assists for 33 points. His 126 career points ranks him 23rd on the Holy Cross all-time points list. Napert-Frenette's 137 games played is second all-time. The record is 138 by Tim Coskren (2000-04).

9TH BEST SCORING OFFENSE: Holy Cross currently has the ninth best offense in the country with a 3.43 goals a game average, while it is second in the conference. Along with seniors Tyler McGregor (Ajax, Ontario) and Pierre Napert-Frenette (Bathurst, New Brunswick), the Crusaders have seen major offensive production from senior Blair Bartlett (Dryden, Ontario), sophomore Dale Reinhardt (Livingston, N.J.) and junior James Sixsmith (Alexandria, Va.). Bartlett is third on the team in scoring with 10 goals and 20 assists for 30 points. His 20 assists and 30 points are both career highs, as he has posted 30 goals and 44 assists for 74 points in 109 games played as a Crusader. Reinhardt is topping his impressive freshman season (11 goals and 11 assists) with an outstanding sophomore campaign as he is fourth on the team in scoring with eight goals and 21 assists for 29 points. Sixsmith is currently fifth on team in scoring with seven goals and 20 assists for 27 points. For his career, Sixsmith has tallied 26 goals and 66 assists for 92 points in 98 games. He is eight points shy of becoming the 37th Crusader to reach 100 career points and the third this season as McGregor and Napert-Frenette reached the mark earlier this season.

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 175-145-31 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).