Chestnut Hill, Mass. -- Holy Cross became the first Atlantic Hockey team to ever defeat Boston College. Paul Pearl's Crusaders shocked the college hockey world with a 5-4 upset victory over the Eagles on Friday afternoon at Conte Forum
It wasn't the first time Holy Cross has shocked the college hockey world. On March 24, 2006 the Crusaders upset heavily favored Minnesota in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to become the first team from Atlantic Hockey to win an NCAA Tournament game.
"It's pretty big. [BC] is an excellent team and an excellent program. They do things right. We'd like to model ourselves after them. To come in here and beat them is pretty special," said an ecstatic Paul Pearl.
"It's a tough lesson to learn when you lose a game like this," said BC coach Jerry York. "We were very conscious of the fact that we had to play better to win, but it just didn't seem to sink in until ten or 15 minutes left in the game," he added.
Holy Cross jumped out to a 2-0 lead with two quick goals in the first period. Mike Barrett got the scoring started for the Crusaders when he tipped in a Joe McNamara slapshot from the point at the 12:24 mark of the first period.
Less than a minute later Castan Sommer scored his third goal of the season on a wraparound attempt. Barrett and Matt Vidal assisted on the play.
Kevin Hayes scored just over a minute after the second Holy Cross goal to cut the lead in half. The senior beat Holy Cross goaltender Matt Ginn with a wrist shot from the circle.
Adam Schmidt scored eight minutes into the middle frame on a rush down the right side to give Holy Cross a 3-1 lead. He was able to catch BC goaltender Thatcher Demko leaning the wrong way, and fired a wrist shot top shelf on the short side.
A little over four minutes later is when talk of an upset became a real probability. Barrett connected on his second of the night as he snapped a shot past Demko for the three goal cushion.
Before the period was over Matt Vidal added a goal to go along with his two assists on the game. Vidal's tally gave the Crusaders a 5-1 lead heading into the final 20 minutes.
"Holy Cross clearly dominated the first two periods of the game. They had more jump, battled us extremely well and put us back on our heels," said York.
Holy Cross only attempted 18 shots all game, but the Crusaders were opportunistic and converted on some mistakes by the Eagles defense.
"We have a good group of forwards that were getting chances in previous games. We haven't always finished, but tonight we were able to finish," said Pearl.
Some of the [defensive] breakdowns led to two-on-ones and odd man rushes," said York. "You're living dangerously if you do that, but clearly we made some mistakes that put us on the wrong sides of two-on-ones and Holy Cross capitalized on that. They forced some errors and created those opportunities," added the four-time national champion.
BC all but emptied the kitchen sink in the third period outshooting Holy Cross 17-3. Ryan Fitzgerald, Michael Sit and Hayes all scored for the Eagles to make it 5-4. The Eagles had a power play down just a goal, but could not convert.
"The third period we shook up our lines a little bit and played a lot better. We were a lot more determined," said York.
Ginn made some key saves in the final few minutes to preserve the win for Pearl's team. "Ginn made a terrific save when it was 5-4. Johnny [Gaudreau] came across in front. We just watched in on tape and a couple times we just went over the top of the net. I think Billy Arnold had a great chance coming left to right," said York.
"Matt is a very good goaltender. If he can see it he can usually stop it. He was able to square up to the puck and really keep composed," said Pearl. "Tons of credit to Matt. He was pretty good," he added.
"Holy Cross played better over the 60 minutes than we did. It's hard to win one period and expect to win a hockey game so I'm very disappointed in the first two periods. The effort and cohesiveness in the first two periods just wasn't there.
"We played a very solid game. We've really been looking for that the entire season. The last eight minutes, not withstanding, against a very good team we were able to protect the middle of the ice and stay away from hurting ourselves," said Pearl who is in his 19th season at his alma mater. The 1989 Holy Cross graduate said he faced BC twice as a player, and lost both times.
It was the first nonconference win of the season for Holy Cross (4-9-0) who welcomes Air Force for a pair at Hart Recreation Center in Worcester next weekend.
Boston College (8-4-2) has now lost two consecutive games for the first time this season and perhaps more alarmingly has given up five goals in each of those contests. The Eagles take on New Hampshire in a home-and-home series next weekend.
Jeff Cox covers college and junior hockey, NCAA recruiting, NHL Draft prospects and the AHL for SBNation. Follow him on twitter @JeffCoxSBNation.