Holy Cross and Mercyhurst played 130 minutes of hockey this weekend. It included six periods and two five-minute overtime periods across two games. By the time it ended, they split the weekend, the product of back-to-back ties after 1-1 and 4-4 results.
It was a good weekend of hockey giving both teams plenty of positives. Both teams staged third period comebacks, with Holy Cross earning a tie with a comeback goal on Friday and Mercyhurst returning the favor on Saturday. On Friday, a scoreless drought through two periods was broken 13 seconds into the third when Jack Riley scored a shorthanded goal. It held up until just about halfway through the period when the Crusaders tied it with a goal from Michael Laffin. It was the first goal of the season for both players.
On Saturday, a more see-saw affair saw Holy Cross leading, 4-3, late in the third period. Down to its last opportunity, Mercyhurst scored thanks to a goal from Taylor Best with 10 seconds remaining. The theatrics spoiled a solid third period from goalie Paul Berrafato, who stopped a total of 91 shots on the weekend.
Berrafato himself stood alone as the weekend’s top star. His performance kept Holy Cross in a position to win, especially in that third period on Saturday. He saved 18 shots in the second period of the series’ second game, then followed it up with 19 more. Though the 20th shot tied the game, he absorbed everything the Lakers could throw at him and helped his team earn two points. Later in the season, that’s going to be huge when points are at a larger and more critical premium.
In one last note that probably only interests me, 10 different players scored 10 different goals, and every player logged his first of the season. For Holy Cross, Laffin had his goal on Friday, with Peter Crinella, Mitch Collett, Danny Lopez, and Charlie Barrow scoring on Saturday. Mercyhurst countered with Riley’s goal on Friday and goals by Derek Barach, Jonathan Charbonneau, Nathan Ferriero, and Best on Saturday.
It’s a good start for both teams, who play very different series next weekend. Mercyhurst returns home for two non-conference games against Ferris State, while Holy Cross stays in conference at the Hart Center for two games with rival Bentley.
The state turned red
Connecticut beat Sacred Heart in every which way on the stat sheet on Saturday night. The Huskies had more than double the number of shots than the Pioneers, with more power play opportunities.
It didn’t really matter.
By the game’s halfway point, Sacred Heart opened up a 3-0 lead on its in-state rival and ultimately rolled to a 3-1 victory. After Austin McIlmurray scored the game’s first goal at the 11:05 mark of the first, freshman Matt Tugnutt scored his first career goal to give the Pioneers a 2-0 lead. It became three when freshman Alex Bates scored his first at 8:11, a score that held for eight minutes until the Huskies finally scored. But it was all UConn would receive from goaltender Brett Magnus.
Though UConn isn’t part of Atlantic Hockey anymore, it’s still a fun rivalry. Saturday was the 59th meeting for the two teams, with SHU’s win drawing them within a game of an even record (UConn now leads, 28-27-4). It was also the fifth straight win for Sacred Heart and the fourth in a row since UConn left for Hockey East.
Now on the backside of its five game non-conference streak to open the season, Sacred Heart packs its bags next weekend to head to Notre Dame for a date with the Big Ten’s Fighting Irish.
Up To Their Old Tricks
After splitting with Arizona State last year in the desert, Air Force entertained the Sun Devils at Cadet Ice Arena over the weekend by winning a pair of one-goal games. After holding off a third period rally for a 4-3 win on Friday, the Falcons came from behind in the second period on Saturday to win by a 3-2 score.
For Air Force, it’s a continuation of some of last season’s trends. The Falcons scored first in games, the third time that’s happened in their first four games this year. In all three of those games this year, Air Force won, improving them to 23-2-2 since the start of last season and 41-8-7 since 2015-2016.
But if they’re that dominant with a fast start, they’re also the best at shutting late doors. Now 3-0 when leading into the third period this year, the Falcons are 23-2-2 dating back to last season and 38-3-5 since the start of 2015-2016.
Now 3-0-1 on the season, the Falcons will likely stay in the national rankings. That sets up a national radar matchup next weekend when they head to Bemidji State for a weekend series with the Beavers.