Cross is Niagara's top returning goal scorer.
Statistics: Most notably, he is Niagara’s
leading returning goal scorer (10). Cross notched 19 points
in 35 games last season, following a 29-point (12-17) performance
as a sophomore. He scored on 14 percent of his shots last
season, but was minus-9 in plus/minus, tied for third-worst
on the team.
he does: Cross describes himself as a pass-first
winger, but he’s probably most valuable to the Purple
Eagles when he puts the puck on net. He was third on the team
in shooting percentage last year, and the two players ahead
of him (Barret Ehgeotz and Ryan Gale) graduated. Cross is
a solid stickhandler, skater and shooter, but needs to recapture
the consistency he had as a sophomore. He has been overshadowed
most of his collegiate career by his teammates, so this will
be his first season in the spotlight.
bigger picture: Cross won’t have Ehgeotz’s
playmaking wizardry setting up scoring chances for him, as
he did for much of the last two seasons. Junior Sean Bentivoglio
could fill a similar role as Ehgoetz, but if Cross doesn’t
play on Bentivoglio’s line, he will have to create more
of his own chances. Despite a wealth of seniors, Niagara never
jelled as a team last season, meaning team-building is an
important chore this fall. Expect Cross to take a leadership
role in the locker room as well as on the ice.
“It’s always been a mental game with me. I started
out pretty well last year, but when the team started to go
bad, that’s when I started to struggle. We had a couple
of off-ice incidents around the Western Michigan series (Nov.
5-6), and some things started going bad. The puck didn’t
bounce for me, and my confidence sort of fell and fell and
fell. At the end, I picked it up a little bit, but it was
too little too late.”