AIC gets first conference loss against Holy Cross

Story By: Ryan Thomas and Matthew Wiernasz

Photo Courtesy of AIC

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Holy Cross gets their first win of the season behind a Liam McLinksey hat trick. AIC Yellow Jackets fall to 2-2-2 against the Holy Cross Crusaders 1-4-0.

” We try to take away things they do well. We can try and execute certain things in our system and the way we want to play to take away what they are good at gives us a better chance to win and I think sometimes when we do that, we can frustrate them and get goals ourselves.” Holy Cross Head Coach Bill Riga Said

Once the Puck dropped and the sirens rang, AIC started to put a few sequences together, meaning both teams were taking chances. AIC forward Julius Janhonen shined when he found a striding puck in the defensive zone that stayed
glued to his stick while traversing Holy Cross’s forecheck. Once Janhonen found an open lane near the right circle if felt he had arrived a little too quickly because he was left searching for a fellow Yellow Jacket.

“We just weren’t very engaged and didn’t want to discredit anything Holy Cross did tonight,” said Coach Eric Lang.

Now Lang’s come from the point of frustration and a sense of confession because AIC got off to a strong start. However, Lang touched upon his team’s effort.

“Their level of urgency exceeded ours. I think this game tends to reward the team that plays with a high-intensity level and punishes the teams that are not ready to play and aren’t willing to do the little things.”

The Crusaders stood firm and made a clean transition while AIC’s forecheck clicked. However, Holy Cross would break through with a quick assist from the top of the left circle, where Tyler Ghirardosi found Liam McLinksey’s at the
top of Jarrett Fiske’s crease. McLinksey would then receive the magnetic pass by ideally finding it glued to his stick, all building to taking Holy Cross taking the 1-0 lead. That would change courtesy of Grayson Constable firing off a
quick wrister that just lost momentum courtesy of a Fiske pad save. Jack Ricketts waited patiently at the bottom of the left offensive face-off circle, where he corralled the loose puck and shot off a clean one-timer that blanked Fiske’s
glove side. Holy Cross currently leads 2-0, heading into the middle frame.

One question which was raised during postgame to Coach Lang was playing to the identity of his team.

“I think we are working towards that, and your identity is a big process in the season. It feels like we took a step back and need to evaluate our emphasis on some things.”

AIC showed promise with a few bright spots, but defensive miscues and weak goalie play proved to be flawed, but Holy Cross showed up to play, and the Crusaders showed up to play.

The Second Period opened gradually, but it felt that AIC noticed a few wrinkles in Holy Cross’s gameplan and began to capitalize on a few broken sequences, along with letting the game come to them, by winning battles, finding
chances, and creating lanes.

Blake Bennett led the charge for his team when he skated into the offensive zone with a bit of vigor, during his offensive zone trip, where he looked poised to get his Yellow Jackets on the board and within one, but he couldn’t find a dent in Crusader Goalie Jason Grande’s armor. Bennett would position the puck along the bottom of his stick, but he couldn’t corral it with his backhand, along with the puck, then slowly sliding across the ice into the boards. A few more opportunities arose for AIC Brett Rylance striding along the left offensive zone circle, where he clipped off a quick wrister to no avail.

The running theme for the majority of the second was the clear impression of how the Yellow Jackets, who once held the momentum, fell victim to a few penalties. Multiple calls in the presence of holding and boarding errors led to a shift in the direction that favored the Crusaders.

Alex Peterson would extend his team’s lead after a face-off turned bitter for the Yellow Jackets while AIC was left scrambling during a 5-3. Peterson then glided back to the point, stepped up in his lane, and took advantage of Fiske’s
glove side with a quick wrister after deking multiple defenders. Matt Deboer also contributed to the scoring affair when Matt Guera was planted at the top of the bottom of the offensive left zone circle, where he noticed Jack Ricketts
waiting for cross ice.

Guera made the play happen when he received Rickett’s pass, which evolved into a simple one-timer that Matt Deboer eventually picked up. He then waited at the crease and took advantage of Jarrett Fiske’s kryptonite in the form of his glove side, even though it was now a 5-4 in favor of Holy Cross.

AIC would fire back courtesy of a Blake Bennet one-timer. Jordan Bird was located along the left offensive zone boards while seeking a semblance of chemistry. Alexander Malinowski noticed the puck land on his stick at the
perfect moment, leading to Bennett firing off a rocket disguised as a one-timer that fooled Grande’s glove side. Even though the second period showed a sense of the Yellow Jackets attempting to mount a comeback, Lang added his team’s effort could have been better.

“Not really, I thought, we had a lot of C’s across the board, C’s and D’s for a grade.”

After 40 minutes of play, Holy Cross would find themselves leading 4-1.
As the final frame began, the lingering fear of desperation was starting to manifest and cling to the icy frost of the MassMutual Center, and with AIC training 4-1, things weren’t looking the best for the home team. Especially with Holy
Cross found a tempo and solidified a balance of rhythm and chemistry, with McLinskey recording his second-night goal as a broken turnover deep in Yellow Jacket territory, which Brett Rylance committed. He attempted to clear the
puck to Nico Somerville. Still, McLinksey intercepted the AIC miscue before shifting the puck to his forehand and hitting Fiske’s top-shelf glove side.
AIC would chip away at their 4-goal deficit courtesy of a Nicholas Caredlli rebound while striding across Grande’s crease. Yellow Jackets would be trailing 5-2 for most of the third. Jack Ricketts would finish his night with his second
goal. The Yellow Jackets would continue to fight and chip away at the Crusader’s growing lead, with Dustin Manz finding a quick bounce that ended up in Grande’s net.
One major blemish and noticeable flaw were goaltending. Netminder Jarrett Fiske had a tough start by recording thirteen saves and allowing five goals on 18 shots. Coach Lang addressed his main priority as the season continues: every play matters.
“There needs to be a level of urgency, that every puck matters, and we need to maintain a solid 60-minute effort, but I think part of that is, we do have new faces, and were younger than what we have been.”

However, Liam McLinksey would seal his team’s victory with an empty netter that would lead to a hat trick for the college sophomore. The crusaders would earn their first win of the season in a 7-3 victory over AIC. The Yellow
Jackets would fall to 2-2-2, and Holy Cross is now 1-4-0 on the season.

Holy Cross did lose to St. Lawrence on Friday night.

AIC looks to turn the page tonight against Lindenwood with a 7:05 p.m. as part of a weekend series.

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