FAIRFIELD, Conn. — Despite coming up short in last Saturday’s overtime thriller between the two teams, Sacred Heart was able to dig deep on short rest to pull out a 2-1 victory, handing Holy Cross its first loss in Atlantic Hockey play.
Intensity was high out of the gates as the Pioneers were eager to avenge the loss at Worcester. Just 7 minutes in, freshman Peter Ferraro lifted a rebound high to the glove-hand side to give Sacred Heart an early 1-0 lead.
Peter Giatrelis added to the first-period cushion at the 17:17 mark, converting on a feed from Andrew Billinghurst. Giatrelis’ tally, his fifth of the early-season, stood up as the eventual game winner, his second in three games. The sophomore has come alive in league play lately, sporting a 4-4–8 line in the last four games.
“You can’t spot a good team like theirs a two-goal lead on the road and expect that you can come back,” said Holy Cross coach Paul Pearl. “We were fortunate to get a win on Saturday and I thought that we might have played better hockey tonight, but things just didn’t go our way.”
The early lead proved to be enough for Sacred Heart, but the road to victory was anything but simple. With 1:11 remaining and down a goal, Holy Cross controlled play deep in the Pioneer zone and pressed, but was unable to find the equalizer.
“The guys were incredibly hungry tonight. We had to kill a lot of penalties and battle through some adversity, but the team was confident that it could play with Holy Cross and we were able to find a way to get the win,” said Sacred Heart coach Shaun Hannah.
“Just the way that they competed for the loose puck in the slot with seconds left showed a lot. We were able to do a lot of the little things that you need to win.”
Goaltending was impressive on both ends of the ice as both Kevin LaPointe and Tony Quesada were up to the challenge. Despite facing several grade-A chances, both goalies were able to maintain composure and keep it a low-scoring affair. Unfortunately, one had to come away with the loss.
Quesada stopped 29 in defeat, including several to keep Holy Cross in the game late in the second period. Had it not been for several terrific saves in the final five minutes, the Crusaders would not have been able to press with an extra attacker.
LaPointe continued his recent brilliance in net for Sacred Heart. The junior from Quebec made 34 saves, surrendering the lone goal in the final frame, but rising to task in the final minutes of the game.
All in all, the hard-hitting, well-played game left both coaches feeling confident about where their teams stand coming into the stretch run of the first half.
“The guys really wanted to come out tonight with a win and they fought and scrapped for it,” said Hannah. “In the last few games we’ve been playing really good hockey with great effort. We’re making progress every night and finally starting to see some wins.”
Said Pearl, “Of course we’ve got to be happy with this way that things have gone so far. Losing a one-goal game here isn’t fun, but we’ve managed to take 17 out of a possible 20 points this year. We’re just gonna try to keep that going in the first half and build on it for the second.”