WORCESTER, Mass. — Holy Cross would not let history repeat itself Saturday night as it took a 2-2 score into the third period and turned it into a 7-2 victory over visiting Air Force. The Crusaders used six different goal scorers to snuff out the Falcons as well as a 24-save performance from freshman goaltender Tony Quesada, who shut out Air Force for two periods.
The Holy Cross rout made up for its lackluster third-period performance last night when it squandered a 4-1 lead in a 6-4 Air Force victory.
“Bad things happen to good teams,” said Holy Cross coach Paul Pearl. “We were undisciplined last night, but we walked through it and made adjustments.
“Tonight was an adversity situation. Our team must be confident playing in close games. Our mental focus wasn’t there last night. The mentality was that we lost a 4-1 lead and not that we were playing in 4-4 hockey game. Tonight was a great improvement.”
The first period lacked the flow that Friday night’s game had produced. The lone scoring chances came from the Crusaders’ Pierre Napert-Frenette, who was denied on the doorstep three times by Falcon keeper Mike Polidor.
“You can’t get frustrated out there,” said Frenette. “It’s a 60-minute hockey game, and you have to know you’ll miss chances.”
Air Force would be the first to strike on the night. With a shorthanded opportunity, Seth Pelletier blasted a shot from the top of the left circle past the blocker of Quesada with 5:01 remaining.
“I was cheating a little bit, I think because it was a two-on-one,” said Quesada. “He just had a good shot to beat me.”
Napert-Frenette would not be denied the entire night, however. Just 1:46 after Pelletier’s goal, Napert-Frenette stormed the net and backhanded in a Polidor rebound for the equalizer.
“It was important to get that goal and get back in the game,” said Napert-Frenette. “I had a two-on-two with Bartlett. I went in with my head down and tried to make a move on the rebound, and it rolled into the net.”
Sophomore Tim Coskren nearly gave the Crusaders their first lead of the game with a shorthanded breakaway. Coskren was denied by the pad of Polidor, but it was Brandon Doria stepping in as the trailer who buried the rebound with 1:54 to play in the second.
Matt Bader retaliated with 59 seconds left to play in the period for Air Force. Taking advantage of a Holy Cross turnover, Bader made a nifty move on the left wing and fired a shot past Quesada. The goal was Bader’s first of the season and sent the teams into the lockerroom deadlocked, 2-2.
“We knew we had to play 60 minutes tonight,” said Holy Cross center Greg Kealey. “We were in the same position as last night. The third period needed to be strong.”
And strong it was for the Crusaders as they exploded to tally five unanswered goals. After Coskren blasted a shot from the point that scored to give the Crusaders a 3-2 lead, it was Kealey that would put the team up 4-2. With the teams skating four-on-four, Chris Smith let a slap shot go from the point. Polidor couldn’t smother the rebound and Kealey’s third whack at it did the trick.
“I don’t get a lot of finesse ones,” said Kealey. “Tonight’s was just hard work. I had to stay with it.”
The Crusaders were the benificiares of a five-on-three that saw Bartlett send a backhander top shelf over Polidor to put Holy Cross up 5-2 with 10:42 to go.
Junior Tom Pawlak rounded out the scoring for Holy Cross, tallying the team’s final two goals. At the 6:46 mark, Pawlak was able to dance around Josh Priewe, before going to the backhand on Polidor. Pawlak grabbed an insurance goal scoring an empty-netter with 1:51 to play.
The Holy Cross effort was backstopped by its freshman goaltender, who robbed senior Andy Berg repeatedly in the third period, including a split glove save from the left circle.
“I was ready and focused tonight,” said Quesada. “I knew if I had a good 20 minutes in the third, we would have a solid finish.”
The victory earns Holy Cross a split for the weekend, improving its record to 2-2 on the season. The Crusaders will travel to West Point to battle with Army next Friday night. The Falcons will host Bentley Oct. 25-26.