March 20, 2004
Atlantic Hockey Championship
Holy Smokes: Crusaders win Atlantic

Holy Cross 4, Sacred Heart 0
Team Goal Str
Time Assists
First Period
1-HC Andrew McKay (12) EV
5:06 P. Napert-Frenette
2-HC Greg Kealey (15) EV
9:54 J. Dams, J. Sixsmith

Second Period

3-HC Jeff Dams (14) PP
8:15 T. Coskren, J. Sixsmith
4-HC Andrew McKay (13) PP
16:15 P. Napert-Frenette, R.J. Irving
Third Period
No Scoring
SH: Kevin LaPointe, 60:00, 29 saves, 4 GA
HC: Tony Quesada, 60:00, 28 saves, 0 GA
Penalties: SH 7/14; HC 5/10
Power Plays: SH 0-3; HC 2-5
Attendance: 1,428
All-Tournament Team
G: Tony Quesada, Holy Cross
D: R.J. Irving, Holy Cross
D: Konn Hawkes, Sacred Heart
F: Jeff Dams, Holy Cross
F: Greg Kealey, Holy Cross (MVP)
F: Pierre-Luc O'Brien, Sacred Heart

Holy Cross led the Atlantic Hockey standings wire-to-wire, and everything that happened in the conference's first tournament indicated that's right where the Crusaders belonged.

Head coach Paul Pearl's team captured the championship – and the NCAA Tournament berth that goes with it – thanks to a convincing 4-0 victory over Sacred Heart Saturday night in West Point, N.Y. It wrapped up a dominating tournament performance for the Crusaders, who outscored opponents 13-1 in three games.

Greg Kealey, who scored one goal Saturday, earned tournament MVP honors, as five of the six all-tournament spots went to Holy Cross players. Goaltender Tony Quesada posted 28 saves to earn his second shutout in three games.

"We came together all season and things seemed to get better for us as the year went along," Pearl said. "We played hard, played good defense and scored on our power plays like we have all year and that was key to the win. It feels real good to be heading to the NCAA Tournament, it is pretty exciting for us."

The Crusaders jumped on the Pioneers early with Andrew McKay and Greg Kealey denting the twine before the contest was 10 minutes old. McKay’s shot glanced off Sacred Heart goalie Kevin LaPointe’s stick and ricocheted into the net, putting Holy Cross on top 5:06 into the game.

“I usually put that puck in the corner,” LaPointe said. “But for whatever reason, the angle of my stick was off and it rolled right off my stick and into the net.”

“Holy Cross came out with guns blazing,” Sacred Heart head coach Shaun Hannah said. “I think they played a really solid game.”

Kealey showed the Pioneers why he was named to the all-tournament team and voted the MVP of the playoffs when he beat LaPointe at 9:54, opening up a two-goal cushion after one period of play.

Holy Cross added two power play markers in the second period as they built an insurmountable four-goal lead that Crusaders’ goalie Tony Quesada protected. The sophomore made 10 of his 28 saves in the final frame.

“(Quesada) was outstanding,” Holy Cross head coach Paul Pearl said. “A lot of the saves that he makes do not look hard. But it is his control of the rebounds and his ability to steer the shots to the corner that make him a good goaltender.”

Jeff Dams potted the first extra-man goal at 8:15 and McKay recorded his second of the night, also on the power play at 16:15. The Crusaders finished 2-for-5 with the man advantage, shutting out the Pioneers on their three attempts.

“We scored two goals on the power play and played great defense tonight,” Holy Cross head coach Paul Pearl said.

“It was great to see this team come in here and play as solidly as they did. I think we seemed to get better as the season went along and tonight was a fitting end.”

The NCAA Tournament trip is a first for Holy Cross, which had won the first MAAC conference tournament in 1999, before the league was awarded an automatic bid.

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