WORCESTER, Mass. – The Crusaders netted four power play goals and a short-handed goal as the Holy Cross men's hockey team pulled away with its largest margin of victory of the season, and the most goals scored this year, defeating the Sacred Heart Pioneers, 6-1, on Saturday evening at the Hart Center in Atlantic Hockey action. With the win, the Crusaders advance to 8-17-3 overall (7-11-3 AHA), while the Pioneers drop to 8-20-0 overall (7-14-0 AHA). During the night, senior assistant captain Adam Schmidt (Warrington, Pa.) and freshman Mike Barrett (Orland Park, Ill.) each netted a pair of goals, freshman Brett McKinnon (Kelowna, British Columbia) netted his collegiate first goal and sophomore Matt Vidal (Manorville, N.Y.) tallied three assists. The two teams split the weekend series, but with the win tonight the Crusaders have won the 2013-2014 regular season series 2-1-0, as they previously won on Nov. 1, 4-3, and lost last night, Feb. 7, 4-2.
The Crusaders came out fighting in the first period, but the Pioneers matched their strength as the teams tied in shots 9-9. At 3:44, the Pioneers had their first big opportunity of the night when on a delayed penalty they forced senior goalie Derek Kump (Falmouth, Maine) to make a wild save sending him spinning out of the net. On the power play chance, the Pioneers could not get a shot off on Kump, but the Crusaders mustered up three short-handed opportunities. Schmidt, senior assistant captain Shayne Stockton (Rochester, N.Y.) and McKinnon each made moves up the ice down a player during the Pioneer power play. The most successful of the three was Stockton who took the puck up the ice and from the neutral zone created a breakaway chance. Stockton took the puck from the glove side of Pioneer goalie Andrew Bodnarchuk and pulled it across to take a backhand shot on the stick side, but Bodnarchuk made the stop at 4:22. On the Crusaders' first power play opportunity of the night, Schmidt hammered one into the back of the net. Sophomore Jake Bolton (Ellington, Conn.) gave the puck to Stockton in the Holy Cross zone and Stockton passed the puck to a skating Schmidt. Schmidt sent a wrist shot in to the glove side of Bodnarchuk and banked it in low on the near side. Senior captain Ryan McGrath (Pittsburgh, Pa.) tried to pull up ice for a breakaway chance and took a shot to the stick side, but Bodnarchuk made the save at 13:38. With just 0:38 remaining in the first period, the Pioneers' Justin Danforth took a wrist shot from the top of the crease, but Kump came in with a huge save to keep the score 1-0. Despite being down 5-on-3 during the period, due to a five-minute major, the Crusaders successfully killed off all three Pioneer power plays and converted their only chance of the period.
The Pioneers came out trying to get their first goal of the game when Coltyn Hansen came down on a breakaway chance, but freshman Logan Smith (Littleton, Colo.) came inside of him and forced him out to a bad angle. Hansen still took the shot, but Kump came in with a big save at 7:11. Just 44 seconds later, the Pioneers took advantage of one of their faceoff victories and at 12:05 lit the lamp behind Kump for the first and only time of the game. Jeff Carroll won the faceoff sending it back to Danforth waiting at the top of the circle who fired the shot in. Sacred Heart tried again at 10:38 when Brian Sheehan took a breakaway chance up the ice, but Kump made a pad save to keep the score even. Just over 12 minutes into the second the Pioneers drew a delayed penalty opportunity that resulted in a penalty shot at 12:29. Spencer Grabowski made his way down the ice for the shot and fired a wrist shot to the glove side of Kump. Kump made the save sending the puck out wide of the net and keeping the door shut on the Pioneers. On a 5-on-4 chance, the Crusaders drew a delayed penalty on a hooking call. The Crusaders pulled Kump in favor of the extra man, and sophomore Castan Sommer (Shrewsbury, Mass.) sent the puck to Smith. Smith set Schmidt up for the shot and with an extra man for just two seconds, the Crusaders netted their second of the night, taking the lead for good at 17:02 in the second. A little over a minute and half later, still on the power play from a previous five-minute major, the Crusaders converted their third power play chance of the night. Vidal caught the puck from sophomore Joe McNamara (Chestnut Hill, Mass.). From the stick side, Bodnarchuk set up for a Vidal shot, but Vidal passed it across to McKinnon who was waiting on the other side of the crease. McKinnon shot the puck over the pad of Bodnarchuk for the first goal of his career and the Crusaders' third of the night. The Crusaders took advantage of two of their three power play chances during the period while the Pioneers could not find the back of the net on their one.
The Crusaders netted their fourth special situation goal of the night short-handed. Junior Nilan Nagy (Canonsburg, Pa.) started the play by sending the puck to Barrett. On a give-and-go between Barrett and Vidal, the pair beat the Pioneer defense on a 2-on-1 chance and Barrett fired the puck in from the slot at 4:47. Sophomore Tim Driscoll (Hingham, Mass.) capitalized on another power play opportunity to give the Crusaders a four-goal lead. Stockton got the puck from Sommer and took a shot that was blocked out by a Pioneer defenseman. Driscoll caught the puck and chipped it into the open side of the net while Bodnarchuk was focused on Stockton. Vidal picked up his third assist of the game when he took a shot that wrapped around the boards. McNamara picked it up and sent the puck to Barrett who just 18 seconds after Driscoll's goal scored the Crusaders' only even strength goal of the night. At 7:28 after Barrett's second goal, the Pioneers replaced Bodnarchuk with sophomore goalie Alex Vazzano for the remaining 12:32 of the game.
Kump earned his first victory of the season in his debut allowing only one goal on the 32 shots he faced. Bodnarchuk allowed six goals and posted 26 saves during the night while Vazzano made saves on all four Crusader shots against him. The Crusader defense gave one of their strongest showings of the season with 22 blocked shots during the game. The charge was led by Nagy with a team-high nine blocks, while sophomore Karl Beckman (Okemos, Mich.), Driscoll, Stockton and Barrett each posted two blocks. The Crusaders led the game in faceoffs, going 32-26 from the dot. Barrett and sophomore Brett Lubanski (Farmington Hills, Mich.) led the centers as Barrett went 14-8 and Lubanski went 6-2. Schmidt is now in seventh in career goals scored for a Division I player at Holy Cross with 49. His second goal of the night was the eighth game-winner by Schmidt in his career, tied for the sixth most by a Division I Crusader. Vidal's three assists on the night tie for the 10th most by a player in a game in Division I history at Holy Cross. Barrett's two goals tonight gives him nine for the season which are tied for 10th for the most goals scored by a Division I rookie in Crusader history.
The Crusaders return to action on Friday, Feb. 14 when they travel to Storrs, Conn. to take on the Connecticut Huskies in Atlantic Hockey action for a 7:00 p.m. puck drop.
On Saturday, Feb. 15, the Holy Cross men's hockey program will host its fifth annual "Pink the Rink" at the Hart Center during its game versus Connecticut at 7:00 p.m. The team will be wearing a special edition white and pink jersey to show its support for breast cancer awareness. The jerseys will be auctioned off throughout the game with all proceeds going to Pink Revolution, which is an alliance of dedicated individuals with a unified commitment to those touched by breast cancer. For the third straight season, every time the Holy Cross men's hockey team scores a power play goal in the Hart Center, money pledged will benefit PINK Revolution. The Crusaders have scored eight power play goals at home. For more information and to donate go here:http://www.powerplaypointsforpink.com/.
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