PITTSBURGH — The Holy Cross Crusaders took some time to get their game working in tonight’s Atlantic Hockey tilt with the Robert Morris Colonials at the 84 Lumber Arena, but when they did start hitting on all cylinders, the Crusaders kept the Colonials frustrated and still in search of their second conference victory on the season.
Holy Cross survived a relentless Colonials squad in the first and third periods which bookended a Crusaders second frame that saw the tide turn in their favor by generating 19 shots while keeping the Colonials attack at bay.
“I though Robert Morris definitely jumped us early there and we were fortunate to get out of there only down 1-0,” Holy Cross coach Paul Pearl said. “Then in the second, we got our skating legs under us and finally stopped having to play so much defense and started getting opportunities.”
The game opened up with a torrid pace, as the Colonials quickly stacked one scoring chance on top of another that starting Crusaders netminder Matt Ginn kept out of the net. Robert Morris received the game’s first power play and took full advantage with Crusader Sean Gustin in the box for tripping. Matt Cope beat Ginn upstairs from the left circle at 13:55 for his first goal of the season to put Robert Morris out front.
Holy Cross looked like a team with a new lease on life in the second period, a team happy to be down only one goal despite all the chances against in the first. The Crusaders wasted little time tying the contest, as Tim Driscoll found a puck that had jumped over a defender’s stick and beat Colonials goaltender Terry Shafer from the slot just :58 into the period.
Holy Cross took the lead for good at 5:21 of the third when Mike McNamara deflected a long shot from Jake Yousa past Shafer for the game-winning tally. The Colonials then mounted a furious push to get the equalizer for the remainder of the third, but the Crusaders kept Robert Morris to the outside for the most part.
“We’re going to have to keep doing a good job of keeping them to the outside tomorrow, because they’re very good at stretching the play and hitting the seams,” said Pearl. “I think as a group we’re getting more confident in how we’re going to play our system and we’re trusting each other more.”
Two Colonials chances almost sent the game to overtime down the stretch. Robert Morris’ leading scorer Cody Wydo found himself on a breakaway, but missed the net, and in the game’s closing minute with the extra attacker, a flurry of shots from the slot made Ginn and the Crusaders defense stand on edge while the puck never found it’s way over the goal line.
“It’s almost comical right now; it’s the same script every week,” Schooley said. “The hockey gods just aren’t smiling on us right now, and the only way we’re going to get through it is to keep stringing complete games together and sooner or later it’ll turn around, it has to. Hats off to Holy Cross, they did what they needed to do, they blocked a lot of shots and got in the lanes. But our hockey team is better than 1-8-1, it’s a lot better. ”
The two teams meet again tomorrow afternoon at 3:30 p.m.