WORCESTER, Mass. — Holy Cross was looking for revenge against the second-place team in the MAAC after dropping a 6-1 decision to the Quinnipiac Bobcats in the opening of its 2002-2003 campaign.
Although it looked grim for the Crusaders after the first period when they fell behind 3-0, Holy Cross capitalized on a four-goal second period to go on to win 6-4.
“We were down, but not playing badly,” said Holy Cross coach Paul Pearl, whose team is now unbeaten in its last five outings. “We knew we had to regroup after the first and as simple as it sounds, we had to get one before they could get four. If that were the case, it would have looked like the first time we played them.”
While the Crusaders were riding a win-streak, the Bobcats were looking to snap a two game losing-streak after dropping both games last weekend to Air Force. Quinnipiac was a mere 3-5 in its last eight games. The Bobcats were unbeaten in their last nine games against Holy Cross, their last loss coming 6-0 Feb. 20, 1999.
The struggling Crusader power play, which was 5-45 entering Thursday’s matchup, was a perfect 3-3 on the evening.
“Our team moved the puck well,” said Pearl. “That’s something we haven’t been doing. They got a lot of traffic in front of (Jamie) Holden and were able to take advantage.”
Holden and Holy Cross starting goaltender Tony Quesada were each relieved of their positions on the night. Holden was chased from the net after making 24 saves and giving up all six goals in 41:48 worth of play. Freshman Ben Conway, who made his first collegiate start last weekend in a 1-1 tie against Canisius, entered in relief for Quesada after surrendering three goals in the first period on eight shots.
“I didn’t pull Quesada because of the way he was playing,” commented Pearl. “We needed a momentum change and it shook us up. Conway played great for us tonight.”
Sophomore Matt Froehlich was the bright spot on the night for the Bobcats, recording a hat trick. The loss marked the second time in Quinnipiac history that a player recorded a hat trick and the team did not win. Chris White’s hat trick against Air Force last weekend was the first. Froehlich got his first two goals in the opening stanza, after Dan Ennis drew first blood for Quinnipiac just 4:03 into the contest.
“We tried to stay positive in the locker room,” said the Crusaders’ Tyler McGregor, who had two goals on the night. “Against a team like Quinnipiac, you can’t get down. We knew if we got one, the flood gates would open.”
Freshman Blair Bartlett struck first for Holy Cross in the second. Bartlett collected a pass from Jonas Tomiuck on his backhand and tucked it five-hole on Holden with 10:50 to play in the second.
On the succeeding power play, defenseman J.R. Walker teed up a shot from the center of the point and blasted it through a screen past Holden to cut the Bobcat lead to 3-2. The goal was one of two for Walker on the night, and his second and third of the year.
Just 1:10 later, Holy Cross’ Jeff Dams buried a pass from R.J. Irving, roofing a shot over Holden for the equalizer.
“Our backs were against the wall,” said Dams. “We knew we needed a better offense and to play with intensity. I just buried my head and blasted it. I hadn’t scored in a while so it felt good to see it hit the back of the net.”
McGregor would round out the scoring in the second for the Crusaders to give them their first lead of the game, 4-3, heading into the locker room.
Conway was called upon early in the third when Brian Herbert was sent in all alone. Conway closed the pads and the Crusaders began a rush up ice. Captain Brandon Doria fed a pace over to McGregor who took Holden right-to-left before going top shelf.
“Our team really took over the game,” said Conway, who had 17 saves. “That first save in the third was huge. It was the difference between 4-4 and 5-3.”
Holden would be victimized once more on Walker’s second goal of the game 37 seconds later. That would be the goal to chase him from the net.
Froehlich added one more to complete the hat trick and cut the Crusader lead to 6-4 but it was as close as they would get.
“The goal is three points during a home-and-home series,” said Coach Pearl, who’s team will travel to Quinnipiac on Saturday. “Getting two tonight gives us a chance to sweep. Ultimately, this was a huge win tonight. In order to be a contender, you have to be able to beat a team like Quinnipiac and Mercyhurst. The road goes through them.”
The victory for Holy Cross keeps them in sole possession of the third place with 25 points, three points ahead of fourth place Bentley and Canisius. The Bobcats are in second with 31 points, one behind Mercyhurst.