Crusaders Set To Host First Place Showdown With Mercyhurst

Nov. 10, 2005

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

Series Record: Mercyhurst leads, 13-5-1

Last Meeting: Mercyhurst 4, Holy Cross 3 (3/18/05; Northford, Conn.; Atlantic Hockey Semifinals)

THE SERIES WITH MERCYHURST: This weekend's series will be the 20th and 21st meetings between the Crusaders and the Lakers, with Mercyhurst leading the all-time series 13-5-1. The Lakers enter Friday's game in first place in Atlantic Hockey with a 4-0 conference record, while the Crusaders are in second with a 3-1 league mark. Holy Cross leads the league in goals allowed with just nine, while Mercyhurst is tops in the conference in goals scored with 31. Last year, the Lakers took the series, 3-1-0. The Crusaders won the first meeting on the road, 5-4 (1/14/05), but the Lakers swept the series at the Hart Center by scores of 4-3 (2/25/05) and 3-2 (2/26/05). The teams met in the Atlantic Hockey semifinals in Northford, Conn., as Mercyhurst won 4-3 (3/18/05). This season the two teams will meet four times.

OFF TO A GREAT START: Last weekend, Holy Cross split a home-and-home series with Atlantic Hockey opponent Connecticut as both teams won on the road. The 4-1-0 record marks the best start for the Crusaders since the 1993-94 season, when they also started 4-1-0 and their best start ever since becoming a Division I hockey program in the 1998-99 season. The best start in school-history is 7-0-0 in the 1977-78 season. Senior goaltender Tony Quesada (South Freeport, Mass.) made 29 saves and four different Crusaders scored goals in the 4-1 win at UConn on Friday night. Senior Pierre Napert-Frenette (Bathurst, New Brunswick) scored a goal, giving him 100 career points, but the Crusaders fell to UConn, 3-2 on Saturday night. Senior goaltender Ben Conway (South Hadley, Mass.) was in net for Holy Cross and made 16 saves, as the Crusaders out shot the Huskies by a 42-19 margin.

THE LAKERS: Mercyhurst enters this weekend's series with a five game-winning streak and a 4-0-0 Atlantic Hockey record. After losing at Michigan Tech (4-3) to start off the season, the Lakers have won five straight including a win over Michigan Tech, and two wins each over UConn and AIC. Mercyhurst leads the conference in goals (31), assists (55) and points (86). The Lakers are led by Scott Champagne's 12 points, as he is second on the team in assists (7) and is tied for the goal-scoring lead with Ben Cottreau with five each. Jamie Hunt ranks first in assists with eight. All three goalies have seen action. Junior Mike Ella is 2-1-0 with a 2.34 goals against average, while freshman Tyler Small is 2-0-0 with a 2.50 goals against average. Junior Jordan Wakefield earned his first win of the season in the second game of the AIC series.

STRONG DEFENSE: Coming into the season the defense was considered a major strength for the Crusaders and that has proven to be accurate so far this season. In the first five games, Holy Cross has given up an Atlantic Hockey best nine goals and has given up only three goals on 26 power plays for its opponents. The Crusaders are ranked sixth nationally in scoring defense with a 1.80 goals allowed per game average.

DUAL THREAT IN NET: The Crusaders have two senior goalies bringing a wealth of experience to that position in Tony Quesada (South Freeport, Maine) and Ben Conway (South Hadley, Mass.). Quesada is second all-time at Holy Cross in minutes played with 4440:54 and wins with 42. He is 3-0-0 this season, including his fifth career shutout in the 1-0 win over Army and is just three wins away from tying Paul Pijanowski's school-record of 45 (1984-87). He ranks first in Atlantic Hockey and second nationally in goals against average (1.00), while he ranks first in Atlantic Hockey and second nationally in save percentage (.962). Earlier this season, Quesada was named the Atlantic Hockey Goaltender of the week for his 22 save performance in the 3-2 win over UMass. This marked the fourth time that he has been named Goaltender of the Week by the conference, as he was named once (1/3/05) in 2004-05 and twice (11/23/03 & 1/4/04) in 2003-04. As a freshman Quesada received MAAC Goalie of the Week honors once (10/28/02), and Rookie of the Week honors twice (11/4/02 and 3/3/03). Conway is 1-1-0, including a 24 save performance in his season debut in the 5-3 win over Army. He is coming off a season that he played in a career high 15 games for a total of 844:23 minutes and went 7-5-2 with 2.70 goals against average.

100 POINT CLUB: Senior co-captain Pierre Napert-Frenette (Bathurst, New Brunswick) had four points with two goals and two assists this past weekend against UConn, giving him 100 career points at Holy Cross. He is the 35th Crusader to join the 100 point club. Last season, Napert-Frenette was first on the team and third in Atlantic Hockey in points with 38, as he was also second on the team in goals with 13 and assists with 25. Senior co-captain Tyler McGregor (Ajax, Ontario) is looking to join Napert-Frenette as he enters the weekend with 90 career points and seven points this season. He had a goal and three assists in the series with UConn. Last year, he led the team and the conference in goals with 21 and added 13 assists. Last season, McGregor earned Atlantic Hockey All-Conference first team honors, while Napert-Frenette was named to the second team.

SPREADING THE WEALTH: Holy Cross has demonstrated its strong depth as the 15 goals scored so far this season have been scored by 11 different Crusaders. Also the Crusaders have 17 players who have at least one point. Senior forward Blair Bartlett (Dryden, Ontario) is off to a solid start as he has a goal and three assists for four points so far this season. Holy Cross has three players with a goal and two assists for three points each in junior forward Sean Nappo (Northville, Mich.), junior defenseman Rob Godfrey (Thunder Bay, Ontario) and freshman Shane McAdam (Hamilton, Ontario).

SOLID START FOR ROOKIES: A bright spot for the Crusaders so far is the play of their freshmen. Defenseman Shane McAdam (Hamilton, Ontario) had a goal and two assists in the weekend series with UConn. He recorded his first collegiate goal and assist in the 4-1 win on Friday night, while he added an assist on Saturday night. Kai Magnussen (Okotoks, Alberta) scored the game winning goal in the UMass win and freshman Dewey Thomson (Northbridge, Mass.) was credited with an assist on Magnussen's game winner.

HOME SWEET HOME: The Crusaders are in the midst of playing six out eight Atlantic Hockey games at the Hart Center and are 2-1-0 so far at home this season. Holy Cross is 265-157-21 all-time at the Hart Center dating back to December 2, 1975, when the Crusaders defeated Fairfield, 11-1. Last season, Holy Cross went 5-4-5 at home.

HEAD COACH Paul Pearl: Paul Pearl is in his 11th year at the helm of the Holy Cross ice hockey program. He is just the fifth head coach in the 36-year history of ice hockey at Holy Cross. On October 13, 2002, with a 3-2 win over Connecticut, Pearl became the school's third head coach to reach 100 victories at Holy Cross. Pearl has forged a 158-139-29 record at Holy Cross 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. Holy Cross posted an overall record of 16-14-6 and a 12-7-5 mark in Atlantic Hockey last season, finishing fourth in the league. The previous season and the second time under Pearl the Crusaders posted a 20-plus win season, tallying a 22-10-4 overall record. Holy Cross swept the Atlantic Hockey tournament, and captured two shutout victories en route to the Championship Title, including the 5-0 playoff win versus American International (3/13/04) and in the 4-0 championship game win over Sacred Heart (3/20/04). In 1998-99 Pearl led the Crusaders to a 22-9-4 mark and the MAAC Hockey Championship. It was the first time in the school's history that the hockey program won its conference championship. In Pearl's first season (1994-95), he inherited a team that had one winning season in its eight previous years. He guided the squad to a 15-10 record, including an 11-4 mark at the Hart Center and an ECAC Tournament berth. 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.