Holy Cross’ first line, which produced 20 points last weekend, was silenced Friday by the Canisius defense.
That, though, meant that it was the Crusaders’ third and fourth lines that tallied, and it was all they needed to come away with a 2-1 victory.
A sluggish first 15 minutes of play produced little offense, but the game saw all three goals scored in a span of 2:12.
“Tonight, we played a good, sound, defensive game,” said Holy Cross coach Paul Pearl, whose team has now won three straight. “Canisius plays a hard game, and they didn’t allow our offense to get going, which is not our usual game, or a game we do well in.
“We played great defense, chipped out of our zone well, and grinded in our own zone.”
Both teams entered the night on two-game winning streaks and with almost identical records. The Crusaders (11-8-0) came into their road trip against the Golden Griffins (10-9-1) just one point behind Canisius in third place. Holy Cross’ victory vaults it into third.
“You always want to get at least a point in the first game on a trip like this,” said Pearl. “It gives you the opportunity for three points or even a sweep. Now, we have two points in hand heading into the second game.”
Holy Cross was allotted the only two power plays of the game, on which it was unable to capitalize. The struggling Crusader penalty kill was not put to the test.
Sophomore Justin Carré put the Griffins up 1-0 at 15:08 of the first period. After Holy Cross goaltender Tony Quesada kicked out a Josh Zavitz shot from the point, Carré collected the rebound and promptly banged it home.
The Crusaders were quick to retaliate 35 seconds later. Capitalizing on a two-on-one, freshman Jason Shuster let go a shot from the top of the left circle which Canisius goaltender Bryan Worosz kicked onto the stick of Tim Bernstein. Bernstein put the rebound into the open net to knot the score at 1-1. Bernstein’s goal was his second of the season.
“That was just a great goal for Bernie,” said Pearl. “All around, (Mark) Spiers was getting hooked, forcing a delayed penalty, and Tim was in the right place at the right time. It was a greasy goal.
“That set a good tempo for us and the tone for the game. We talk about getting the next shot after a goal, to get a goal on the next shift is that much more important.”
Holy Cross’ third line of Jonas Tomiuck, Pierre Napert-Frenette, and Blair Bartlett put the Crusaders up for good with 2:40 remaining in the first. Tomiuck walked out from the right corner and shoveled a pass into the slot where Napert-Frenette was camped out. Napert-Frenette pulled the trigger and beat Worosz low to the glove side for the winner.
“Pierre’s goal was beautiful,” said Pearl. “Jonas held the puck nicely before feeding it to Pierre. Both goals were different but hard-working.
“Worosz is a good goaltender, especially down low. You have to get good quick shots off, and that’s exactly what we did tonight.”
Worosz finished with 19 saves on the night. His counterpart, Quesada turned in 21 saves, including a key save on Todd Bowler in the slot. Quesada charged out and stopped the one-timer with the left pad, with less than five minutes to play.
“Quesada played well for us tonight,” said Pearl. “He had about four or five key saves. Our team blocked shots really well in front of him, but he controlled his rebounds very well and got out of the net and moved the puck.”
Quesada made another clutch save in the second period on junior Rob Martin, who walked in all alone to the slot but couldn’t finish. Quesada recorded his first collegiate shutout versus Canisius earlier this year, taking a 3-0 decision on Nov. 22.
Canisius pulled Worosz with 29 seconds left in the third but was unable to penetrate the zone.
Both teams will square off once again Saturday night when third place is up for grabs yet again.