March 2, 2012
WORCESTER, Mass. - Holy Cross continued its run as one of the hottest teams in college hockey, beating Army 3-2 in a first round Atlantic Hockey Association playoff series at the Hart Center.
The Crusaders scored twice in the second period and held on to beat Army in the first game of a best-of-three playoff series to run their unbeaten streak to nine games.
Army received goals from Andy Starczewski and Bryant Skarda but could not overcome a two-goal deficit and fell to 4-22-7.
Holy Cross goalie Matt Ginn, the national Goalie of the Month in February, turned away19 shots to help his team improve to 18-13-4.
Mac Lalor, Mike Hull and Bill Day collected assists and Ryan Leets was stellar in goal with 36 saves but the Black Knights could not get the tying goal.
Holy Cross got on the scoreboard first, netting the game’s initial goal five minutes in. Leets made the initial stop, through a screen, of Matthew Davis shot but Brandon Nunn hopped on the loose puck for his 15th goal of the season.
Army was forced on the penalty kill when a player was whistled for tripping but Kyle Maggard and Hull both had opportunities to negate the advantage.
Army tied the game midway through the first period when Starczewski knocked home a rebound goal of his own. Lalor started the play and fed Hull who fired a shot on goal. Starczewski handled the loose puck for his team-leading 13th goal of the season. It marked Hull’s team-best 17th assist and the sixth assist of the season for Lalor.
Holy Cross went back on top with 2:55 left to play in the first period. After the Crusaders won the faceoff, Erik Vos slid the puck past Leets’ pad for his 12th goal of the season.
The Crusaders, who finished third in the regular season but dropped to fifth because of tie-breakers, extended their lead to 3-1 midway through the second period. Army was whistled for too many men on the ice and Shayne Stockton converted the opportunity with his sixth tally of the season.
The Black Knights cut their deficit to one goal with 90 seconds left in the second period. Day cleared the puck and fed Skarda near center ice. Skarda beat one defender, stayed strong on the puck, and snapped his third goal of the season. It was Day’s fifth assist and trimmed the Holy Cross lead to 3-2 after two periods.
Both teams had power play opportunities early in the third period but the solid play of Leets and Ginn kept the Holy Cross lead at 3-2.
Leets made a terrific stop on a breakaway and then sprawled near the face-off circle for another stop but the Black Knights were unable to get the tying goal despite playing the final 45 seconds with an extra attacker.
Game two of the best-of-three series is set for Saturday at 7:05 p.m. at the Hart Center. If necessary, Sunday’s game will begin at 7:05 p.m.
GAME NOTES: Army’s starting lineup consisted of Danny Colvin, Mike Hull and Andy Starczewski with Cody Ikkala and Marcel Alvarez on defense and Ryan Leets in goal … Leets made his 38th career start … Col. Ed Naessens is serving as the team’s Officer Representative …The Army hockey team provided two great examples of how important academics are at West Point. Junior forward Mike Henderson took a test during the trip and manager Jon Greaney worked on his thesis at every available opportunity … Because of a large ice-dancing competition in Worcester, Mass., Army was forced to stay 30 minutes away in Sturbridge, Mass. … Holy Cross was on spring break, possibly affecting the crowd size … Injured defenseman Cheyne Rocha chronicled the trip for a future multi-media feature that will air on goARMYsports.com.
HOLY CROSS 3, ARMY 2
HOLY CROSS 2-1-0—3
HC – Nunn (Davis, Stockton) 5:48
ARMY – Starczewski (Hull, Lalor), 10:36
HC – Vos (Daly, Stockton), 17:05
HC – Stockton (Atkins, Cox), PP, 9:55
ARMY – Skarda (Day), 18:31
Shots: Army 21 (8-7-6); Holy Cross 39 (11-14-14)
Saves: Army 36 (Leets, 59:14, 9-13-14; empty net, 00:46); Holy Cross 19 (Ginn, 59:54, 7-6-6; empty net, 00:06)
Power Plays: Army, 0-3; Holy Cross, 1-5
Penalties: Army, 5-10; Holy Cross, 3-6