Holy Cross Edges SUNY Canton, 3-2

RUTLAND, Vt. – It was a strong defensive battle all night that featured 47 saves from SUNY Canton goaltender Illie Berisha, but an early third period goal from Holy Cross's Sam Girard proved to be the difference, as the Crusaders edged the Kangaroos, 3-2, in the Rutland Herald Invitational semifinal matchup on Saturday night at Spartan Arena.

With the win, Holy Cross improves to 11-2-0 overall and will play the undefeated (12-0-1) Gulls of Endicott College in the RHI championship on Sunday at 4 p.m. Following the loss, SUNY Canton falls to 6-5-0 on the season and will play Castleton University in the consolation matchup Sunday at 1 p.m.

There were five different goal-scorers in the game, with seven different players also registering assists on the night. Marcia LaPlante finished the night with 10 saves on 12 shots for the Crusaders, while Berisha was exceptional on the other side, making 47 saves on 50 shots for the Kangaroos.

It was a back-and-forth battle for most of the first period with chances on both ends of the ice. Danielle Doherty broke a scoreless tie late in the first period on a tic-tac-toe play from Goostrey and Ashmun. Ashmun sent a pass blue line to blue line and found Goostrey streaking down the near boards. Goostrey then delivered a perfect pass to a trailing Doherty in the slot, who lifted one past Berisha to put the Crusaders up 1-0 at the 13:40 mark of the opening period.

Less than five minutes later at 18:04 of the first period, SUNY Canton responded with a strong goal of its own. Grace Page skated down the ice on a 2-on-2 break, with teammate Hannah Brady crashing the net. Nearly battled off the puck at the near circle, Page sent a hopeful pass towards the crease and it reached a diving Brady, who snuck one past LaPlante just inside the far post to even the score 1-1 heading into the locker room.

Kara Violette put the Crusaders up once more just over three minutes into the second period when she sent home a rebound off Sam Girard's initial shot with a scrum in front of the net. Despite multiple chances for both squads, Violette's goal stood as the only scoring of the period as the Crusaders took a 2-1 lead into the final 20 minutes of play.

Girard and Violette were active again early in the third for Holy Cross, delivering what proved to be the game-winning goal at the 5:21 mark of the period. This time, Girard hammered home her own rebound after Violette received a feed from Elizabeth Scala and sent a quick shot towards the front of the net that Girard got a piece of. The early third-period goal was the only consecutive scoring for either team, as the Kangaroos later responded once again.

After a near goal on the other end from Girard, the Kangaroos cleared the puck and went on a fast break the other way. Margret Troiano controlled the puck deep in the Crusaders' zone, before finding Adams open in the slot for a bang-bang goal to cut the deficit to back to one, 3-2, just 9:38 into the period. However, that would be the final scoring of the contest as Holy Cross finished the stanza strong and played solid defense down the stretch to secure the tight 3-2 victory.

Neither team was able to capitalize on power-play opportunities, with SUNY Canton finishing 0-for-2 and Holy Cross going 0-for-3. The Crusaders held a tight 32-25 advantage in the faceoff battle on the night.