Crusaders To Face AIC In Atlantic Hockey Quarterfinals

March 10, 2006

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The Teams: #1 Holy Cross (23-9-2, 19-7-2 AHA) vs. #8 AIC (6-20-5, 6-17-5 AHA)

Date: March 11

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

Time: 7:00 p.m.

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

Series Record: Holy Cross leads 30-15-6.

Last Meeting: HC 5, AIC 2 (1/28/06; Worcester, Mass.).

THIS WEEKEND: The top-seeded Holy Cross men's hockey team (23-9-2 overall, 19-7-2 Atlantic Hockey) will face eighth-seeded American International College (6-20-5 overall, 6-17-5 Atlantic Hockey), in the Atlantic Hockey Tournament Quarterfinals on Saturday, March 11, at the Hart Center. The game is set for 7:00 p.m. The Crusaders earned the top-seed by winning their second Atlantic Hockey regular season championship in three years. Holy Cross won the season series with AIC with a 3-0-1 mark. This is the second time these two teams have met in the postseason, as the Crusaders won 5-0 in the AHA Quarterfinals on March 13, 2004.

THE SERIES WITH AIC: Saturday night's game will mark the 52nd meeting between the Crusaders and the Yellow Jackets, with Holy Cross leading 30-15-6. The Crusaders won this season's series, 3-0-1, and are 13-0-2 in the last 15 games against AIC.

HC IN AHA TOURNAMENT: The Crusaders have a 4-1 record all-time in the Atlantic Hockey Tournament. Holy Cross won the first-ever AHA Tournament in 2004, earning the program's first ever spot in the NCAA Tournament. The Crusaders defeated AIC (5-0), Canisius (4-1) and Sacred Heart in the title game (4-0). Last year, Holy Cross defeated Sacred Heart, 4-2, in the quarterfinals, but then fell to eventual champion Mercyhurst, 4-3 (OT), in the semifinals. In 1999, the Crusaders won the MAAC Tournament Championship by defeating Canisius, 4-3, in the finals.

THE YELLOW JACKETS: AIC, which earned at least a point in each of the last four weekends and is 2-4-3 over its last nine games, closed out the regular season with a 4-2 win at Army on Saturday night. Jereme Tendler leads the AIC offense with 15 goals and 11 assists for 26 points. He has registered eight multiple point games this season. Defenseman Jeremy Leroux is second on the squad in scoring, leading the squad with 11 assists and recording 16 points overall. Neil Sullivan has racked up seven goals and nine assists for 16 points to tie Leroux, while Jeff Valdes has totals of 4-9-13 and Ryan Robin has seven goals and five assists for 12 points. Tom Fenton has emerged as the primary netminder for the Yellow Jackets. He has been honored by Atlantic Hockey four times this season, three as the Rookie of the Week. Fenton has recorded a 3.52 goals against average and a .899 save percentage. AIC has recorded its highest win total since the 2002-03 season, while the 17 points in league play are the most since the league was formed in 2003-04.

HC IN THE RANKINGS: The Crusaders' .706 overall winning percentage this season is third in the nation behind Minnesota (.764) and Miami of Ohio (.735). Holy Cross is second in the AHA and 15th in the nation in scoring defense with 2.44 goals allowed per game, while it is first in the AHA and fourth in the nation in penalty kill percentage (87.3). Offensively, the Crusaders are third in the AHA and tied for 16th in the nation in scoring offense (3.29 goals per game), while they are second in the AHA and sixth in the nation in power play conversion percentage (21.8).

AHA REGULAR SEASON CHAMPIONS: By sweeping Bentley and with Sacred Heart's 4-3 loss at Connecticut on Saturday night, the Crusaders captured sole possession of the Atlantic Hockey regular season title. This is their second title in the last three seasons. On Friday night, senior goalie Tony Quesada (South Freeport, Maine) made 26 saves and sophomore Dale Reinhardt (Livingston, N.J.) scored the lone goal as Holy Cross shutout Bentley, 1-0. On Saturday night, senior Pierre Napert-Frenette (Bathurst, New Brunswick) scored the game-winning goal with just 1:03 left in the game for the 3-2 victory. Senior Blair Bartlett (Dryden, Ontario) and junior James Sixsmith (Alexandria, Va.) each scored goals and Quesada made 22 saves.

CRUSADERS SET SCHOOL RECORD FOR WINS: With 23 wins this season, the Crusaders have set a new school record for wins in a single-season. They are the fifth team in school history to reach the 20 win mark. 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.

QUESADA EARNS AHA HONORS: Senior goalie Tony Quesada (South Freeport, Maine) was named the Atlantic hockey goaltender of the Week for the sixth time in his career and third of this season for his performance against Bentley. He made 48 saves on 50 shots in the two games, including his sixth career shutout and second of the season in the 1-0 win on Friday night.

AHA TOURNEY AT HART CENTER: As announced before the season, Holy Cross will also host the AHA Semifinals and Finals on March 17-18. The semifinal games are scheduled for 4:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., while the championship game on Saturday is slated to start at 7:00 p.m.

SENIOR SALUTE: This year's senior class consisting of Blair Bartlett (Dryden, Ontario), Marc Bianchi (Ithaca, N.Y.), Ben Conway (South Hadley, Mass.), Tyler McGregor (Ajax, Ontario), Pierre Napert-Frenette (Bathurst, New Brunswick), Tony Quesada (South Freeport, Maine) and Andrew Weber (Hanson, Mass.) has left a huge impact on Holy Cross hockey. This group of seniors has been a part of 78 wins, which are the most wins in a four year period in the history of the program. They have also won the most games on the road in a four year period, including a school record 13 wins this season. As sophomores they were key contributors to the team that won the Atlantic Hockey Championship and earned the school's first ever bid into the NCAA Tournament.

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.

SOLID DEFENSE: Holy Cross is ranked second in Atlantic Hockey and 15th nationally in scoring defense with 2.44 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 seven goals and 17 assists for 24 points, which are all career highs. He is second in the conference and 19th nationally in points per game by a defenseman with .73. Sophomore Matt Burke (Milton, Mass.) is seventh on the team in scoring with three goals and 15 assists for 18 points. Junior Rob Godfrey (Thunder Bay, Ontario) is ninth in scoring and freshman Shane McAdam (Hamilton, Ontario) is 10th. Godfrey has four goals and nine assists for 13 points, while McAdam has three goals and nine assists for 12 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) currently owns five of the six all-time career goaltending records at Holy Cross and is approaching the single-season record for wins. He ranks first all-time for save percentage (.914), goals against average (2.50), wins (57), games played (100) and minutes played (5733:26), while he is second in saves (2551). He is now 18-5-2 on the season and his .760 winning percentage is third in the nation. Quesada's 18 wins is a new career high and ties him for second on the single-season all-time list at Holy Cross with Rob McGlory who had 18 wins in the 1982-83 season. The record is 19 set by Mark Young in the 1979-80 season. Quesada's career record now stands at 57-32-8 (.629). The Crusaders are 12-2-1 in the last 15 games that Quesada has played in. This season, he is second in the AHA and 10th nationally in save percentage (.925), while he is second in the AHA and 18th in the nation in goals against average (2.28).

McGREGOR HAVING A CAREER YEAR: Senior Tyler McGregor (Ajax, Ontario) is having his best season at Holy Cross. McGregor leads the team in scoring with 22 goals and 25 assists for 47 points, which are all career highs. His .67 goals per game ranks him sixth in the country, while his 1.42 points per game is seventh nationally. McGregor's 130 career points (66 goals, 64 assists) is tied for 19th all-time at Holy Cross with senior Pierre Napert-Frenette (Bathurst, New Brunswick), while his 138 games played is tied for second. He is second in the league in goals and his 11 power plays goals is second in the league and tied for seventh 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 and four times in his career.

NAPERT-FRENETTE SETS HC RECORD: Senior captain Pierre Napert-Frenette (Bathurst, New Brunswick) now holds the Holy Cross all-time record for career games played with 141. The record was 138 by Tim Coskren (2000-04). His 130 career points with 51 goals and 79 assists ranks him tied for 19th with senior Tyler McGregor (Ajax, Ontario) on the Holy Cross all-time points list.

SIXSMITH APPROACHING 100 POINTS: Junior James Sixsmith (Alexandria, Va.) has 97 career points which puts him three points shy of becoming the 37th Crusader and third this season to reach 100 points. Sixsmith is fifth on the team in scoring this season with nine goals and 23 assists for 32 points. Seniors Pierre Napert-Frenette and Tyler McGregor reached this mark earlier in the season.

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 177-147-31 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).