Holy Cross Set To Meet Minnesota In NCAAs On Friday

March 21, 2006

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NCAA West Regional Semifinal

The Teams: #1 Minnesota (27-8-5) vs. #4 Holy Cross (26-9-2)

Date: March 24

Place: Ralph Engelstad Arena (11,406), Grand Forks, N.D.

Time: 6:30 p.m. (EST)

TV: ESPNU; Clay Matvick & Jim Paradise (click here for broadcast information).

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

Holy Cross Student Radio: WCHC 88.1 FM

Series Record With Minnesota: First Meeting

Series Record With North Dakota: 0-1

Last Meeting: ND 3, HC 0 (3/26/04; Colorado Springs; NCAAs)

Series Record With Michigan: First Meeting

THIS WEEKEND: The No. 4 seed Holy Cross men's hockey team (26-9-2) will face No. 1 seed Minnesota (27-8-5) in a first round match-up of the West regional of the NCAA Tournament at Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks, N.D., on Friday, March 24. The game is set to start at 6:30 p.m. (EST). This is the first time that these two teams have ever met. The winner of this game will face the winner of the second regional semifinal featuring No. 2 seed North Dakota (27-15-1) and No. 3 seed Michigan (21-14-5) in the regional championship game on Saturday, March 25, at 9:00 p.m.

2ND NCAA TOURNEY IN 3 YEARS: Holy Cross earned a trip to their second NCAA Tournament in the program's history and its second in three years with a 5-2 win over Bentley in the Atlantic Hockey Tournament Championship game on Saturday, March 18, at the Hart Center in Worcester, Mass. Holy Cross and Boston University are the only two teams this season to win both their conference's regular season and tournament titles. In 2004, the Crusaders defeated AIC (5-0), Canisius (4-1) and Sacred Heart in the title game (4-0) to clinch their first ever spot in the NCAA Tournament. Holy Cross would go onto to fall to North Dakota by a score of 3-0, in Colorado Springs, Colo., on March 26, in the only time that the Crusaders have faced a WCHA opponent at the Division I level.

CRUSADERS SET SCHOOL RECORD FOR WINS: With 26 wins this season, the Crusaders have shattered the 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.

HC IN THE RANKINGS: Holy Cross is currently No. 19 in the latest USCHO.com/CSTV Division I Men's Hockey Poll. This is the first time that Holy Cross has been ranked in this poll in the program's history. The Crusaders' .730 overall winning percentage this season is third in the nation behind Minnesota (.738) and Miami of Ohio (.737). Holy Cross' five game unbeaten streak (5-0-0) is the second longest current streak in the country behind Boston University's nine game streak (7-0-2). Holy Cross is 12th in the nation in scoring defense with 2.35 goals allowed per game, while it is third in the nation in penalty kill percentage (87.9). Offensively, the Crusaders are 13th in the nation in scoring offense (3.35 goals per game), while they are sixth in the nation in power play conversion percentage (22.1).

ALL-TOURNAMENT ACCOLADES: Junior James Sixsmith (Alexandria, Va.) was named the Most Valuable Player of the 2006 Atlantic Hockey Tournament, while senior forward Pierre Napert-Frenette (Bathurst, New Brunswick) and senior goaltender Tony Quesada (South Freeport, Maine) joined Sixsmith on the all-tournament team. Sixsmith scored four goals and added three assists for seven points in the three games, including two goals and an assist in the 4-1 win over UConn in the semifinals. Napert-Frenette also tallied seven points in the three games with two goals and five assists. He had a goal and two assists in both the semifinals and finals. Quesada was outstanding in goal as he made 87 saves on 91 shots, allowing only four goals in the three games.

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 81 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.

SIX CRUSADERS HONORED BY ATLANTIC HOCKEY: The Atlantic Hockey Association announced its regular season award winners and All-Conference teams at the Atlantic Hockey Tournament banquet at Holy Cross on March 16. Six different Crusaders were honored, while Holy Cross also received the Team Sportsmanship Award. Senior forward Tyler McGregor (Ajax, Ontario) earned four honors as he was named the Player of the Year, earned a spot on the All-Conference first team, received the Individual Sportsmanship Award and earned the co-Regular Season Scoring Trophy. McGregor (21 goals and 22 assists) tied with Ben Cottreau (17 goals and 26 assists) for the most points in conference games with 43. Junior defenseman Jon Landry (Lexington, Mass.) was also selected to the All-Conference first team, while senior forward Pierre Napert-Frenette (Bathurst, New Brunswick) and senior goalie Tony Quesada (South Freeport, Maine) earned spots on the second team. Quesada earned the Regular Season Goaltending Award for his 2.22 goals against average in league games. Senior forward Blair Bartlett (Dryden, Ontario) received the Best Defensive Forward Award and junior Rob Godfrey (Thunder Bay, Ontario) earned the Best Defensive Defenseman Award. Last year, McGregor also received first team honors and Napert-Frenette received second team.

STRONG SPECIAL TEAMS: Holy Cross' 87.9 penalty kill percentage is the third best in the nation, while its 22.1 power play percentage is sixth. Crusaders have only allowed 25 goals on 206 penalty kill opportunities, while they have scored 49 goals on 221 power plays.

4-2-0 IN NON-CONFERENCE GAMES: The Crusaders had a 4-2-0 record this season in non-conference games. Holy Cross went 3-0-0 in games against ECACHL opponents 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 CCHA members Nebraska-Omaha and Ohio State. LOVING THE ROAD: The Crusaders are 13-3-1 on their opponent's home ice this season and their 13 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, 3/3), 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 three losses are to Sacred Heart (1/6, 2/25) and Army (1/14), while it tied Mercyhurst (2/18). The Crusaders went 1-2-0 in neutral site games.

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 12th nationally in scoring defense with 2.35 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 nine goals and 18 assists for 27 points, which are all career highs. He is second in the conference and 17th nationally in points per game by a defenseman with .75. Sophomore Matt Burke (Milton, Mass.) is seventh on the team in scoring with four goals and 17 assists for 21 points. Junior Rob Godfrey (Thunder Bay, Ontario) is ninth in scoring and freshman Shane McAdam (Hamilton, Ontario) is 10th. Godfrey has four goals and 12 assists for 16 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 has just set three single-season records. He ranks first all-time for save percentage (.916), goals against average (2.47), wins (60), games played (103) and minutes played (5913:08), while he is second in saves (2638). His career record now stands at 60-32-8 (.640). He is now 21-5-2 on the season and his .786 winning percentage is second in the nation. Quesada's 21 wins is a school record for wins in a single-season, while his 1652:14 minutes played and .928 save percentage are also school records. The Crusaders are 15-2-1 in the last 18 games that Quesada has played in. This season, he is fifth nationally in save percentage (.928), while he is 11th in the nation in goals against average (2.18).

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 24 goals and 26 assists for 50 points, which are all career highs. His .67 goals per game ranks him tied for sixth in the country, while his 1.39 points per game is tied for seventh. McGregor's 133 career points (68 goals, 65 assists) are 19th all-time at Holy Cross, while his 141 games played rank second. His 12 power plays goals are tied for fifth in the nation and tied for second with Jerry DeLeo (1985-86 season) on the Holy Cross single-season chart. 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 144. His 137 career points with 53 goals and 84 assists rank him tied for 14th with Kevin Cyr (1979-83) and Mike Shustak (1990-94) on the Holy Cross all-time points list. This season, Napert-Frenette is second on the team in scoring with 15 goals and a career-high 29 assists for a career best 44 points.

SIXSMITH REACHES 100 POINTS: Junior James Sixsmith (Alexandria, Va.) reached 100 career points with second goal in the 4-1 win over UConn in the AHA Semifinals, becoming the 37th Crusader and third this season to reach that milestone. He currently has 104 career points with 31 goals and 73 assists. Sixsmith is third on the team in scoring this season with 12 goals and 27 assists for 39 points. Seniors Pierre Napert-Frenette and Tyler McGregor also reached 100 points earlier this 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 180-147-31 record at his alma mater and has been the man behind the bench in seven of the nine 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).

THE GOLDEN GOPHERS: Friday night will mark the first ever meeting between Holy Cross and Minnesota, which took fourth in the WCHA Tournament by losing to number one overall seed Wisconsin. The Golden Gophers (27-8-5) are the number two overall seed in the NCAA Championship, behind the nation's leading win percentage (.738) and a high powered offensive attack. Led by junior forward Ryan Potulny, Minnesota is ranked second nationally in goals per game with an average of 4.15. They are first overall in scoring margin at 1.62 while only giving up 2.52 goals per game defensively. Potulny stands first in the nation in points (63), points per game (1.52), goals per game (0.95) and is tied for first in power play goals with 17 overall. Freshman forward Phil Kessel leads all rookies in the country with 50 points and 1.31 points per game. Sophomore Alex Goligoski (0.95) and senior Chris Harrington (0.90) rank fifth and sixth in the nation, respectively, in defenseman points per game. In net for Minnesota, junior Kelen Briggs is third nationally in win percentage with a 21-5-3 mark and a 2.51 goals against average.

THE FIGHTING SIOUX: North Dakota is the second seed in the West Regional after defeating St. Cloud State in the WCHA Championship game and finishing with an overall record of 27-15-1. The Fighting Sioux score an average of 3.47 goals per game and give up only 2.33 for a scoring margin of 1.14, which is ranked fifth in the country. Junior forward Drew Stafford leads his team in points with 44 on 23 goals and 21 assists. Stafford leads the entire nation in short handed goals with six. Another outstanding rookie is freshman forward T.J. Oshie, who's 0.56 goals per game in ranked 16th in the country. Oshie leads the NCAA with 8 game winning goals and also has added 10 power play goals on the season. Leading the team in assists in sophomore forward Travis Zajac with 26. Junior Jordan Parise has seen the majority of action in net for the Fighting Sioux and is ranked sixth nationally with a 2.12 goals against average and a .726 winning percentage at 22-8-1. Parise also boasts a .931 save percentage which places him third in the nation.

THE WOLVERINES: Third-seeded Michigan enters the NCAA Championship with a 21-14-5 record after finishing third in the CCHA Tournament, while riding a balanced attack to the nation's third leading scoring offense. The Wolverines average 3.65 goals per game, but give up an average of 3.00. Michigan is led by junior forward T.J. Hensick's 17 goals and 35 assists for 52 points. He stands ninth in the nation in assists per game (0.88) and 16th in points per game (1.30). Senior forward Andrew Ebbett has totaled 42 points on 14 goals and 28 assists. Freshman Jack Johnson ranks seventh nationally with a 0.86 defenseman points per game average and 10th in rookie points per game. Splitting time in net during the season are senior Noah Ruden and freshman Billy Sauer. Ruden has a 2.86 goals against average with a 10-8-1 record and Sauer has a record of 11-6-4 for winning percentage of .619.

FORMER CRUSADER RECALLED BY SAN JOSE: Former Crusader Patrick Rissmiller scored his first NHL career goal in San Jose's 4-3 shootout lost to Dallas on March 18, in his second game after being recalled by the Sharks from the Cleveland Barons. He played in four games for San Jose in the 2003-04 season. Rissmiller has played for Cleveland for four season as he is the Barons' all-time points leader and all-time assists leader, while he is second in goals. As a four-year Crusader (1998-02), Rissmiller tallied 53 goals and 90 assists for 143 points in 131 games. He is 12th on the Holy Cross all-time points list, while he is tied for seventh in assists. In his senior season, Rissmiller led the Crusaders in assists (20) and points (46).