WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — AIC may ask Atlantic League staff to schedule more games against Holy Cross next season.
One night after battling to a 1-1 tie, the Yellow Jackets beat the Crusaders 1-0 on Saturday night at the Olympia Ice Center. With the win, AIC has now earned six of their eight league points this season against Holy Cross.
“The guys worked hard, the goaltenders played great all weekend; our guys did a nice job,” said AIC coach Mike Field.
The highlight of the night was the play of AIC freshman goaltender Ben Meisner, who turned aside all 39 shots he faced. In doing so, he pitched his third shutout of the season; his second against Holy Cross. He is now ranked third in the nation in shutouts and has also set the single season shutout record for AIC, despite having only played in 11 collegiate games.
Gary Newbert holds the AIC career shutout record. He recorded four shutouts from 1973-77.
AIC controlled the flow early in the game, taking just over two minutes to get on the board. Senior Josh Froese found Tom Mele in the high slot and Mele put the puck past the right arm of goalie Thomas Tysowsky to give AIC the 1-0 lead.
Holy Cross generated a couple of legitimate scoring chances during the stanza, including one in the 11th minute when Brodie Sheahan danced through the AIC defense, but his shot missed wide.
AIC took the 1-0 lead into the dressing room. It is just the fourth time this season AIC has held the lead after the first period.
“I think we just got our skating legs under us,” said Holy Cross Coach Paul Pearl. :I think in the first, it was like (Friday) night at our place — we were on our heels a little bit instead of trying to take it to them.”
Holy Cross ratcheted up the pressure in the second period, but Meisner was the story from that point forward. Holy Cross peppered a bounty of strong shots on the young goaltender, some delivered in pairs. Meisner kept his team in the game though, even when AIC had difficultly clearing the puck from their zone. He also benefited from some strong defensive play in front of him.
Sometimes, Meisner seemed the bearer of good luck. At the 12-minute mark, Holy Cross generated a two-on-one rush, but Peter Lorinser’s shot missed wide right. Seconds later, a shot fluttered through the air in Meisner’s crease, but didn’t cross the goal line.
Holy Cross believed they had finally broken Meisner by scoring the tying goal at 3:25 of the third period, but the referee waived off the goal, declaring that he had blown his whistle before the puck crossed the line.
Holy Cross’s opportunities continued until the waning seconds of the game, when Meisner was forced to make a glove save at the 19:55 mark.
After the game, Meisner shared the credit for his accomplishment with his teammates,
“It’s not me necessarily setting those records, but it’s the team behind me helping me set those records. Records are records, but at the end of the day we want to climb out of the basement as a team and, you know, this win feels really good.”
Tysowsky also had a strong night, keeping 21 of 22 shots out of his net. The teams combined went 0-7 on the power play.
With the win, AIC claims the season series against Holy Cross for the first time since 2000-01.
Both teams will continue their Atlantic Hockey league play next week. AIC (3-16-2, 3-12-2 AHA) invites league foe RIT to town for two games. Meanwhile, Holy Cross (5-13-5, 4-9-4 AHA) will travel to Colorado to take on Air Force.