ORONO, Maine — There’s only so much a team can ask of a goaltender in any one game.
On Friday night at the fifth annual Black Bear Classic, Sacred Heart goaltender Kevin LaPointe evoked images of his predecessor in red and white, Eddy Ferhi, stopping everything in sight and keeping his seemingly overmatched team within striking distance.
Holy Cross, however, just had too much.
Tim Coskren converted a sharp-angle shot into a goal on the Crusaders’ first shot of the third period and Maine native Tony Quesada, playing in his home state for the first time since high school, made 18 saves as Holy Cross upended Sacred Heart 4-2 to win the first game of the Black Bear Classic.
“We played a good, solid game,” said Holy Cross Coach Paul Pearl. “It’s always nice to get a win like this in the division.” The game counted as Sacred Heart’s first Atlantic Hockey conference game, and Holy Cross’ third. The Crusaders are now 2-0-1 on the season, while Sacred Heart starts the year 0-3-0, 0-1 in Atlantic Hockey.
“People may feel like the games matter more when February comes around,” said Pearl, “but getting points at any point during the season helps, especially in bunches early.”
The story of the night, on either end, was LaPointe, who turned aside 33 shots in the loss including several early in the game that kept Sacred Heart close. One in particular, a left shoulder save on a shot by Andrew McKay eight minutes into the second period, preserved a 1-1 tie and culled some “oohs” and “ahhs” from the crowd.
“He’s been solid for us for the past two years,” said Sacred Heart Coach Shaun Hannah. “We have a few things to sort out in the defensive zone, and it helps when you have a goaltender playing as well as he is right now.”
Two years ago, Ferhi, then a Sacred Heart junior, appeared in a game at Orono against Maine. He made more than 50 saves to just nine by Maine’s goaltender and the Crusaders escaped with a 4-4 tie.
J.R. Walker got Holy Cross off on the right foot five minutes into the first period with a powerful slapshot from the top of the slot. Walker took a feed from Andrew McKay, slid to his left and fired through a jungle of pads. On its way through, the puck glanced off of a stick, but Walker retained credit for the goal.
Outshot badly in the first frame, the Pioneers managed a goal of their own at 8:59, with Holy Cross forward Andrew Weber in the penalty box for interference. Kalen Wright, playing left defense on the power play, slid the puck across the blue line to Garrett Larson, who rifled a shot toward the net. The puck missed badly to the right, but ricocheted off the boards behind the goal and right to Pierre-Luc O’Brien. O’Brien tapped the puck into the net to knot the score.
Neither team managed to score in the final ten minutes of the first period, but both goaltenders were tested. Sacred Heart’s Kevin LaPointe saw the most action, turning away 15 shots, while Quesada turned away four Pioneer attempts.
The Crusaders’ barrage of shots continued in the second period, and again Lapointe was equal to the task in every instance but one.
On just its ninth shot of the game, Sacred Heart took the lead 12:11 into the second frame on a play similar to the Pioneers’ first goal. Mike Reagan broke out of his own zone and tried a two-line pass down the right boards to fellow winger Brad Holland. Holland missed the puck, but chased it the length of the ice to avert icing.
While behind the net, he chipped the puck toward the front, missing two defenders and one of his own forwards in the process. The puck came to the top of the right circle to Bernie Chmiel, who fired a wrist shot to the top left corner of the net, past Quesada.
Holy Cross retaliated with a goal of its own at 15:54, converting for the first time in seven power-play opportunities when Pierre Napert-Frenette lifted a wrist shot over LaPointe’s left shoulder through a screen.
“It seemed like someone was always in the box,” said Hannah. “We allowed power-play goals against us and that was the difference. Despite the shot total it looked pretty even.”
The game was sloppy, with the two teams combining for 34 minutes in penalties, including 20 in the second period alone. Four times during the game, one team enjoyed a 5-on-3 advantage, but neither could convert.