Holy Cross Hockey Downs AIC in a 2 Game Set, Concludes Regular Season This Weekend
Published: Friday, February 28, 2014
Updated: Friday, February 28, 2014 12:02
Whenever a team reaches the end of the season, it is important to finish strong and be in a good position for the playoffs. The Holy Cross hockey team is aiming to do that after defeating American International College twice this past weekend with scores of 5-1 and 4-3. With the two wins, the Crusaders pushed their overall record to 11-18-3 and their conference record to 10-12-3. More importantly, the two victories moved the Saders up in their conference standings as the team seeks to host a team for best of three series beginning Friday, March 7 and concluding on March 9 if necessary.
Both of the games this weekend featured scoring and playmaking from throughout the roster. This contribution will need to continue for the Crusaders to make a move in the Atlantic Hockey Playoffs. On Friday alone, senior Adam Schmidt, junior Tommy Dwyer, sophomore Tim Driscoll, and freshman Nick Finn all contributed with a goal and an assist in the 5-1 win. Junior goaltender Matt Ginn made 16 saves in the victory.
Saturday’s game proved to be a difficult battle as AIC opened the scoring and held a 1-0 lead into the second period. The second period belonged to Holy Cross as they rattled off four goals to AIC’s one. Freshman Brett McKinnon scored the first goal of the period for the second goal of his career.
The Crusaders broke the 1-1 tie when Shayne Stockton weaved through three AIC defenders to score. Less than two minutes later, AIC tied the game up again. However, the Saders did not back down from this challenge as junior Jake Youso and McKinnon each scored to give Holy Cross the lead for good. An AIC rally fell short as they only added one goal in the third, giving the Crusaders the 4-3 victory. The Crusaders improved to 5-2 in the month of February and to 10-2-2 when scoring three or more goals.
McKinnon spoke about the importance of these two victories saying, “The wins obviously felt great, getting home ice for our first playoff series would help a ton but we’re mainly just focused on keeping momentum going into playoffs so that we will be at our best when it matters.”
Entering last weekend, Holy Cross would have had to hit the road in the opening rounds of the playoffs but the two wins moved Holy Cross up to eighth in the Atlantic Hockey Standings. The No. 5-8 seeded teams will host a best two-out-of-three AHA Tournament first round series on March 7-9 versus the No. 9-12 seeds. Currently, Holy Cross looks to be bound for a rematch with AIC in the playoffs as AIC is currently the ninth seed. However, the Crusaders have the opportunity to move up in the standings if they can beat Army (4-25) twice this weekend. However, even though Army has had a tough season this year, the Crusaders are not taking anything for granted. We just have to stick to the system and have a good week of practice,” said McKinnon. “We have been getting better at playing the style of play we need to play to be successful so hopefully we continue to take strides in that.”
Canisius and Niagara, the sixth and seventh place teams, play against RIT and Air Force, respectively, so losses by those teams could prove to be the necessary boost Holy Cross needs in their conference.
What Holy Cross needs to do to be successful in the playoffs is to establish consistency in all facets of the game. “I think our biggest challenge heading forward into playoffs is just being focused for every shift,” said McKinnon. “With the short playoff format you can’t afford a bad game so we just need to be firing on all cylinders right off the start.”
Although Holy Cross is focused on only one game at a time, the NCAA Northeast Regional is at the DCU Center and is hosted by Holy Cross. If Holy Cross can build off their strong month in February and play consistently, who knows? The DCU Center could be decked out with purple pride supporters as Holy Cross travels down the road in the national college tournament.