Oct. 19, 2006
GAME DAY QUICK FACTS:
The Teams: Holy Cross (0-1-0, 0-0-0 AHA) vs. Mercyhurst (0-2-0, 0-0-0 AHA)
Dates: October 20-21
Times: October 20-7:00 p.m.; October 21-4:00 p.m.
Place: Hart Center, Worcester, Mass.
Holy Cross Student Radio: Friday & Saturday-WCHC 88.1 FM
Series Record: Mercyhurst leads 14-7-2.
Last Meeting: Holy Cross 3, Mercyhurst 3 (2/18/06; Erie, Pa.).
THIS WEEKEND: The Holy Cross men's hockey team (0-1-0 overall) will kick off the Atlantic Hockey season when it hosts Mercyhurst (0-2-0 overall), in the home opener at the Hart Center on Friday and Saturday, October 20-21. Friday night's game will be at 7:00 p.m., while Saturday's contest will be at 4:00 p.m. These two teams have won the last three Atlantic Hockey Tournament titles with Holy Cross winning in 2004 and 2006, and Mercyhurst winning in 2005. The Crusaders are coming off a 5-4 overtime loss at Niagara in their season-opener, while the Lakers dropped two games (7-1 & 5-4) at Ferris State to open the season. Senior captain James Sixsmith (Alexandria, Va.) had three assists and junior Dale Reinhardt (Livingston, N.J.) scored a goal and added an assist in the Niagara game. Last season these two teams were separated by only one point in the final Atlantic Hockey regular season standings as Holy Cross finished in first place with 40 points and Mercyhurst ranked second with 39 points. The Crusaders took the season series, 2-1-1.
THE SERIES WITH MERCYHURST: This weekend's games will mark the 24th and 25th meetings between the Crusaders and the Lakers, with Mercyhurst leading 14-7-2, but since the formation of Atlantic Hockey in 2003-04, Holy Cross leads the series 6-4-1. Last season, the Crusaders went 2-1-1 against the Lakers with a 10-3 win (11/11) at the Hart Center and a 5-2 victory (2/17) at the Mercyhurst Ice Center, while the Lakers won 4-3 (11/12) in Worcester, Mass., and the two teams tied 3-3 (2/18) in Erie, Pa.
HC IN HOME & ATLANTIC HOCKEY OPENERS: Friday night marks Holy Cross' home and Atlantic Hockey opener. The Crusaders are 22-15-3 all-time in home openers. This is the second time that the Crusaders' home opener has also been their AHA opener. The first time occurred last season when Holy Cross defeated Army, 1-0, on October 28, 2005. The Crusaders are 3-0 in AHA openers with a 3-1 win at Canisius on October 11, 2003, a 3-1 win at AIC on November 5, 2004 and last year's 1-0 victory over Army.
HOME SWEET HOME: The Crusaders will play eight of their next 11 games at the Hart Center, with all of them against Atlantic Hockey opponents. Last season, Holy Cross went 12-4-1 at home and have a 275-160-22 (.626) all-time record at the Hart Center.
THE LAKERS: Mercyhurst enters the game with a 0-2-0 overall record, with 7-1 and 5-4 losses at Ferris State. Junior Ben Cottreau, sophomore Matt Pierce and freshman Chris Risi each have a goal and an assist for two points to lead the offense. Sophomore goaltender Tyler Small has a 6.00 goal against average and a .854 save percentage in 120:00. Last season, the Lakers finished with a 22-13-1 overall record and a 19-8-1 record in Atlantic Hockey. Mercyhurst earned a second-seed in the Atlantic Hockey Tournament and fell to Bentley, 3-2 in double-overtime in the semifinals at the Hart Center.
SENIOR SALUTE: Holy Cross will look to seniors Tanner Fogarty (McMurray, Pa.), Rob Godfrey (Thunder Bay, Ontario), Jon Landry (Lexington, Mass.), Sean Nappo (Northville, Mich.) and captain James Sixsmith (Alexandria, Va.) as a group for leadership, as this class has been part of 65 wins, two Atlantic Hockey titles, two NCAA Tournaments and one NCAA Tournament victory.
CAPTAIN James Sixsmith: Senior James Sixsmith (Alexandria, Va.) will serve as the team captain for the 2006-07 season. Sixsmith had three assists in the Niagara game giving him 77 for his career. Sixsmith now has 108 career points moving him to 33rd all-time at Holy Cross and his 77 assists is good for fourth all-time on the Holy Cross Division I chart. He also ranks seventh in points (108) and ninth in goals (31) on the HC all-time Division I list. His 3 assists per game are tied for first in the nation and his 3 points per game are tied for third. Last season, Sixsmith was third on the team in points (40) last year with 12 goals and 28 assists, and he has 105 career points making him the 37th Crusader to reach the 100-point club. He has also shown that he is a clutch player as he was named the 2006 Atlantic Hockey Tournament MVP for his three goals and five assists in the three games, while he also scored a game-winning shorthanded goal with just 28 seconds left in the third period in the 3-2 win at Dartmouth on January 21, 2006.
STRONG OFFENSIVE START: Holy Cross had four different goal scorers last weekend in the game at Niagara, including two power play goals. The Crusaders' 4.0 goals per game is tied for 10th in the nation, while its 33.3 power play percentage is third. Junior Dale Reinhardt (Livingston, N.J.), senior Jon Landry (Lexington, Mass.), sophomore Dewey Thomson (Northbridge, Mass.) and senior Sean Nappo (Northville, Mich.) each scored goals. Senior captain James Sixsmith (Alexandria, Va.) dished out three assists, while Reinhardt and junior Cal St. Denis (Freelton, Ontario) also added an assist each.
THE FORWARDS: Holy Cross returns 12 forwards, while they lost four and welcome four newcomers. Along with Sixsmith, big seasons are expected from senior Sean Nappo (Northville, Mich.) and junior Dale Reinhardt (Livingston, N.J.). Nappo had a solid junior season with 10 goals and 11 assists for 21 points, while Reinhardt had a strong sophomore season that saw him finish tied for fourth on the team in assists (25), while he was fifth on the team in goals (11) and points (36).
THE DEFENSEMEN: Seniors Jon Landry (Lexington, Mass.) and Rob Godfrey (Thunder Bay, Ontario) bring a lot of big game experience to a veteran defense that has eight players returning and one newcomer, while it lost one. Landry has played in 107 career games and is coming off a career season offensively as he was sixth on the team in points with 29, scoring nine goals and adding 20 assists. Landry was also named to the Atlantic Hockey all-conference first team and earned a spot on the NCAA West Regional all-tournament team. Godfrey also had a career season last year as he received the Atlantic Hockey Best Defensive Defenseman Award and chipped in with four goals and 12 assists for 16 points. Junior Matt Burke (Milton, Mass.) brings a lot of intensity to the ice and is a good set up man as he recorded 18 assists while also scoring four goals for 22 points which was good for seventh on the team in scoring.
DAMS MAKES COLLEGIATE DEBUT: Freshman goalie Ian Dams (Manotick, Ontario) made 34 saves in his collegiate debut in the Niagara game. Ian's brother Marty is a sophomore defenseman on the team and his brother Jeff is a former member of the Crusader hockey team as a forward and graduated in 2004.
HC PICKED THIRD IN PRESEASON POLL: Holy Cross has been picked to finish third in the Atlantic Hockey Association Preseason Coaches Poll. The Crusaders received 83 total points with one first place vote. Mercyhurst was picked as this year's preseason favorite with 96 points and seven first place votes, followed by Sacred Heart with 88 points and two first place votes. Following Holy Cross, Connecticut was picked fourth with 55 points, and Air Force and Bentley tied for fifth with 51 points each. Canisius (45 points), Rochester Institute of Technology (36 points), Army (32 points) and American International College (13 points) were picked in positions seven through 10 by the league's head coaches.
2005-06 REVIEW: The Crusaders are coming off its most successful season with a school-best 27-10-2 record as they earned their first win in the NCAA Tournament. The 4-3 overtime victory over Minnesota in the NCAA West Regional Semifinals marked the first time that a No. 4 seed defeated a No. 1 seed in NCAA action (since the tournament expanded to 16 teams). The Crusaders also won the Atlantic Hockey regular season and tournament titles for the second time in three years, and were ranked No. 14 in the final USA Today/American Hockey Magazine poll for its highest ever national ranking.
HOLY CROSS HEAD COACH Paul Pearl: Paul Pearl is in his 12th year at the helm of the Holy Cross ice hockey program, and is just the fifth head coach in the history of ice hockey at Holy Cross. On January 21, 2006, with a 3-2 victory at Dartmouth, Pearl became the school's all-time winningest coach with the 168th victory of his career. Pearl has forged a 181-149-31 record at Holy Cross and has been the man behind the bench in seven of the nine most successful seasons in Holy Cross history, while he has had three teams post 20-plus win seasons. Along with 10 post-season appearances in 11 years, Pearl led the Crusaders to their first two NCAA Tournament appearances in 2003-04 and 2005-06, while he coached the Crusaders to their first ever NCAA Tournament win with the 4-3 overtime victory over Minnesota in Grand Forks, N.D., on March 24, 2006. In 2005-06, Pearl led the Crusaders to a school single season record 27 victories, as the team posted an overall record of 27-10-2. Holy Cross also claimed the Atlantic Hockey regular season and tournament titles. As a four-year letterwinner for the Crusaders, he played in 125 games as a defenseman, tallying 14 goals and 63 assists. Pearl led Holy Cross with 25 assists as a senior captain on the 1988-89 squad. During his four-year playing-career, Holy Cross won 63 games and qualified for the ECAC East Tournament twice.