For the Holy Cross Crusaders, it’s all about looking forward. Paul Pearl’s team will try to put last season behind it, and focus on what on paper looks to be the makings of a successful 2009-10 season. Coming off a seventh-place finish, the Crusaders are picked to finish fourth in this year’s preseason poll.
It’s hard to argue with the coaches’ reasoning. Holy Cross finished strong last season, winning two of its last three regular season games and then putting a scare into RIT in a wild best-of-three series that saw the Crusaders score 14 goals in the series but come up short. The feeling is that this is a team that underachieved a bit last season and didn’t get many bounces.
That, and returning 96 percent of your offense makes you a contender.
“I suppose [when voting in the preseason poll] you look around at who you lost and who you gained,” Pearl said. “I don’t know if we’re a fourth-place team or where we are. Nobody does at this point; it’s just numbers. But I like the group talent that we have.”
Returning are juniors Jordan Cry (32 points last season), Brodie Sheahan (31 points) and Everett Sheen (25 points) as well as all but one defensive starter and the goaltending tandem of Ian Dams and Adam Roy.
Pearl thinks this team was close to being a contender last year, but not always getting timely goaltending and a power play conversion rate of 8.9 percent (down from 25 percent the year before) in league play were sore spots.
“You change your save percentage from 88 percent to 90 percent and that’s maybe a goal a game [against],” he said. “You finish better on the power play and that’s a goal a game [for].
“It was a funny thing last year [with the power play]. We just couldn’t find a trigger guy. It’s something we’re definitely working at this season.”
The Crusaders have seven freshman, and all will get their shot to contribute.
“We’re going to mix things up at the beginning of the year and see how things work out,” Pearl said. “We’re excited about our new players and think they’ll fit in well.”