As satisfying victories go, Holy Cross’s 5-4 win over No. 7 Boston University doesn’t quite rate with the Crusaders’ stunning upset of Minnesota in the 2006 NCAA tournament.
But it’s not far off.
Playing in front of a crowd of 5,766 on the road at Agganis Arena, Holy Cross became the first-ever Atlantic Hockey team to beat the Terriers. Sophomore Adam Schmidt led the way with a pair of power-play goals that tied the game and then put the Crusaders ahead. Linemate Andrew Cox added a goal and two assists.
“It’s fantastic for this group of guys because none of these guys were here for Minnesota,” Holy Cross coach Paul Pearl said. “This is a testament to these guys working hard.” Pearl went on to say that the win was “right up there” with the Minnesota win, as well as first coaching win with the program against Amherst College.
“It’s unbelievable,” Schmidt said. “It’s by far the most fun game I’ve ever played in. This team has been battling hard so far this season, and we came out with a purpose. Beating a top ten team in the country feels great.”
It was hardly a fun or great night for BU coach Jack Parker.
“I liked Holy Cross tonight,” Parker said. “They played hard. They played smart. They played thorough. They were really competitive. Their goalie played well when he had to.
“We had one line going tonight — one left wing, one center, and one right wing — and they didn’t play together. They were on three different lines.”
Parker singled out left wing Matt Nieto, center Corey Trivino, and freshman right wing Evan Rodrigues.
“Other than that, we didn’t have a forward who played hard enough or smart enough. And you’d be hard pressed to find a defenseman who gave us what he was supposed to give us. I guess you could say Pat MacGregor gave us a pretty good night.”
Holy Cross scored first at 6:46 when Eric Voss buried the rebound of a Mike Daly shot from the point. But then the Terriers exploded with two goals in just 40 seconds. First, Adam Clendening made a great pass to Sahir Gill on the right wing for a shot and score, then some tic-tac-toe passing resulted in a goal when Charlie Coyle and Nieto set up Alex Chiasson for a tip-in.
Ironically, that was the beginning of the end for the Terriers.
“Defensively, we were pathetic in our own zone,” Parker said. “I think what happened was that they made it 1-0, and we’re playing okay. Then we get two quick goals — two very pretty plays — to make it 2-1. And to watch the way my team played after that? It was pathetic. ‘We’re all set now; we’ll make some pretty plays and dance around.’ We got beat to every loose puck; we got out-muscled in front of our own net, and we were pathetic killing penalties. And as bad as we were, they were good at all of that stuff.”
Playing with a two-man advantage, the Crusaders tied it up at 11:41 when a soft shot by Schmidt slipped under sliding defenseman Garrett Noonan and went into the net. Then Schmidt got another six minutes later, banging in a loose puck in the crease on another play.
Things didn’t get any better in the second period for the Terriers. They only had one grade ‘A’ scoring chance — a nice rush by Rodrigues in the period’s final minute. Holy Cross continued to grind away. They had few chances, but buried one of them, as defensemen Sean Escobedo and Max Nicastro struggled on a shift, leading to a shot by Andrew Cox that caromed off one of them and in. BU goalie Kieran Millan slammed his stick in frustration.
“We hung him out to dry all night,” Parker said.
BU winger Wade Megan earned a five-minute major for hitting from behind in the third, and Holy Cross capitalized on that 10 seconds later with what proved to be the game-winning goal. It came on a long shot by a Brendan Baker that went through traffic and beat Millan.
Chiasson got his second goal right off a faceoff win by Trivino, and BU played harder in the waning minutes. Driving toward the net from the behind the goal line, Nieto evaded a poke check by goalie Matt Ginn to make it 5-4 with 6:15 remaining, but the Terriers couldn’t get the equalizer.
BU (2-2) plays a home-and-home pair with Massachusetts next weekend, while Holy Cross (2-1) travels to Connecticut on Thursday.