Holy Cross coach Paul Pearl seems ready to take an “Italian” approach to his goaltending woes in the upcoming season.
Much like spaghetti, Pearl is ready to let three netminders battle it out — basically, by throwing all three against the wall to see which one will stick.
“Ricky Massey and Derek Cuhna come in on equal footing,” said Pearl referring to the tandem that split work last year between the pipes for the Crusaders. “We’ve also got Dan Calore [who transferred two years ago to Holy Cross], who will be pushing the two of them.
“We’ve got some depth in the position right now, so whoever stops the most pucks now will get the call in the beginning and we’ll go from there.”
But Pearl’s overall message was very clear: “We have to get better goaltending this year.”
Better goaltending will lead to better team defense, which is something that also bugged Pearl about his 2000-01 team that missed the MAAC playoffs by one point.
“We have to play better overall team defense and kill penalties better,” Pearl added. “We’re scoring at a decent clip, but as a team, when we’ve been good, we’ve been at 3.00 or below for our goals against average. We’ve got to get to that point again.”
Sporting a lineup with four seniors, seven juniors and nine sophomores, Pearl hopes that experience will lead to better execution of systems and will guide his team along the right path.
“All these guys have played a lot of games. That was the key to us winning the [MAAC championship in 1999],” Pearl said. His team has posted a 16-32-5 league record since capturing the time in 1999. “We had 11 seniors who had all played 110 hockey games going into the year. With the returning players having played a lot of games, that can only help us this season.
“We play a very systems-oriented game and I think the more guys are experienced, the better they learn and fall into our system. You saw that at the end of last year, as our record down the stretch was pretty good. We had guys learning the system.”
One of the most encouraging notes for Pearl and the Crusaders is that the seven top scorers from a year ago have returned.
Now, if some of that darn spaghetti will just stick.