ERIE, Pa. — Holy Cross scored the final four goals Friday night to defeat Mercyhurst 5-2 before more than 800 fans at the Mercyhurst Ice Center. The win snapped a four-game winning streak for the Lakers, was the first victory ever for Holy Cross at the Ice Center, and was just the second Crusader win in 13 contests between the two teams.
It also left Holy Cross atop the league standings, one of just two unbeaten teams (along with Quinnipiac) in Atlantic Hockey play.
Holy Cross took a 1-0 lead early in the first on the second goal of the season by freshman defenseman Jon Landry. But Mercyhurst sophomore forward Erik Johnson tied the game with a shorthanded strike at 5:03 before putting the Lakers in front, 2-1, with a second shorthanded tally at 16:50.
They were Johnson’s second and third goals of the season, and the Coon Rapids, Minn., native nearly had a third shorthanded opportunity late in the period, but the referee stopped play because of a hand pass.
Crusaders head coach Paul Pearl was happy to escape the period trailing only 2-1.
“I thought we were sluggish in that period and were fortunate to be down only a goal. [Goalie] Tony [Quesada] played great and kept us in the game. We played a lot better after that and capitalized on some opportunities,” said Pearl.
Holy Cross scored three times in the second period, getting a power-play goal from freshman forward James Sixsmith and even-strength tallies from freshman forward Sean Nappo and junior forward Andrew McKay.
“McKay’s goal with under a minute left in the second got the team really feeling good about itself in the dressing room,” said Pearl of the momentum-setter.
The Crusaders scored the only goal in the final period as senior forward Jeff Dams lit the lamp at 3:32.
Holy Cross outshot Mercyhurst 32-28 and converted one power play in five tries. Mercyhurst was blanked in five power-play attempts, but scored twice shorthanded.
Holy Cross improved to 5-3-1 overall and to 5-0-1 in Atlantic Hockey. The Lakers fell to 4-2-0, 3-1-0.
The two teams conclude the weekend series Saturday night at 7:30.