WEST POINT, N.Y. — Andrew McKay scored two goals and goaltender Tony Quesada made 28 saves to record his second shutout of the championships, and Holy Cross cruised to a 4-0 victory over Sacred Heart to claim the league’s inaugural title in front of 1,428 fans at Tate Rink on the campus of Army Saturday night.
With the win, Holy Cross (22-9-4) earns the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. It marks the first trip to the national tournament in school history. Holy Cross will find out who it plays and where it will play Sunday night when the NCAA announces the field of 16. Sacred Heart finishes its season 14-17-5.
The Crusaders jumped on the Pioneers early with Andrew McKay and Greg Kealey denting the twine before the contest was 10 minutes old. McKay’s shot glanced off Sacred Heart goalie Kevin LaPointe’s stick and ricocheted into the net, putting Holy Cross on top 5:06 into the game.
“I usually put that puck in the corner,” LaPointe said. “But for whatever reason, the angle of my stick was off and it rolled right off my stick and into the net.”
“Holy Cross came out with guns blazing,” Sacred Heart head coach Shaun Hannah said. “I think they played a really solid game.”
Kealey showed the Pioneers why he was named to the all-tournament team and voted the MVP of the playoffs when he beat LaPointe at 9:54, opening up a two-goal cushion after one period of play.
Holy Cross added two power play markers in the second period as they built an insurmountable four-goal lead that Quesada protected. The sophomore made 10 of his 28 saves in the final frame.
“(Quesada) was outstanding,” Holy Cross head coach Paul Pearl said. “A lot of the saves that he makes do not look hard. But it is his control of the rebounds and his ability to steer the shots to the corner that make him a good goaltender.”
Jeff Dams potted the first extra-man goal at 8:15 and McKay recorded his second of the night, also on the power play at 16:15. The Crusaders finished 2-for-5 with the man advantage, shutting out the Pioneers on their three attempts.
“We scored two goals on the power play and played great defense tonight,” Holy Cross head coach Paul Pearl said.
“It was great to see this team come in here and play as solidly as they did. I think we seemed to get better as the season went along and tonight was a fitting end.”
LaPointe made 29 saves for Sacred Heart in a losing effort. Holy Cross outshot the Pioneers, 33-28.
Kealey was named the tournament’s MVP and voted to the all-tournament team along with teammates R.J. Irving, Dams and Quesada. Sacred Heart’s Pierre-Luc O’Brien and Konn Hawkes rounded out the all-tournament squad.